Pullman offers school textbook authors a vital lesson: rebellion for beginners

Novelist denounces Government's plan to cut copyright payments to authors of school books

The novelist Philip Pullman is among thousands of writers condemning government proposals to restrict the fees they receive from their books used by schools, colleges or universities.

The author, pictured, of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials said that the originators of educational material should be paid fairly: "Anything else is simply theft by another name."

Writers including Julia Donaldson and Anne Fine – the current and former Children's Laureate respectively – warn that proposed amendments to the framework for licensing copyright across the education sector will devastate their income.

Although many of the writers are not well-known names, their textbooks are required reading for students, and they rely on the royalties for as much as half their earnings. Under the present system, educational establishments are permitted to copy hundreds of thousands of published texts for annual fees – equating to about £2.75 per student – through the licensing schemes operated by the Copyright Licensing and Educational Recording Agencies. The Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) distributes the royalties. Last year, around 18,500 writers shared more than £7m of such income.

For many writers, these fees exceed direct sales of their books because schools, colleges and teachers buy one copy of a book and photocopy text.

Authors are outraged that the Government wants to increase the amount of their work that schools can copy without paying for the time spent on researching and writing.

The proposals, which are out for consultation, propose widening of "copyright exception for education to the extent permitted by EU law". They follow the publication last year of the Hargreaves review into the intellectual property framework.

Ian Graham, author of 250 science textbooks, said: "I don't understand why inventors, musicians and software writers can protect their ideas and work but the value of an educational writer is now so low that we [cannot] protect our ... creative work. Or is the Government planning to tell Microsoft that schools can pirate as many copies of Microsoft Office as they like?"

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "Under the proposals in the consultation, schools will still need to buy books and other learning materials, and will still need licences for the majority of the copyrighted material they use."

Brought to book: Authors speak out

Richard Gross, author of 'Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour'

"The hours worked in relation to income meant I was earning below the minimum wage. Taking out ALCS royalties would be disastrous."

Keith Brindle: author of 51 English textbooks for students aged 11-16

"For some works, the income from photocopying has exceeded that from direct sales ... If the changes are implemented, I will almost certainly stop writing books for education."

John Seely, author of 'Oxford Secondary English' and other titles

"Educational writing has never been an easy way to make a living ... Schoolbooks have a limited lifetime."

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living