Letter: Compact disc prices: facts the select committee overlooked

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Sir: I'm sure I'm not the only composer to be watching the debate on the price of CDs with a certain ironic detachment. Where were music-loving MPs when we needed them?

During the period leading up to the 1988 Copyright Act, composers and authors, through their professional bodies, made a plea to the Government that approximately 5p be levied on the price of blank cassettes, as is the custom in many other Western countries, to compensate the creators of music for the universal practice of home-taping, which is, after all, theft.

Surprise, surprise, the Thatcher administration sided with the multinationals which produce the blank tapes, and turned down the idea of the levy on the grounds that there would be too much red tape in collecting it (though the Performing Right Society offered to collect and distribute it); that the blind would suffer unnecessarily (though the PRS also offered to recompense blind charities); and that blank tapes would become unfairly expensive (by 5p, remember).

Do any of your readers know, off the top of their heads, how much a blank tape costs? Would they really not buy one if it cost pounds 1.05 instead of pounds 1? Wouldn't they feel that it was quite a small price to pay for righting quite a big injustice for composers?

And, by the way, apropos of those CDs, the record companies saying they need the extra pounds 2 to develop new talent is hilarious. Ask any of the new talent.

Yours faithfully,


London, W1