HC Deb 11 July 1961 vol 644 cc178-9
3. Mr. Fisher

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will introduce legislation to amend the Copyright Act, 1911, under which publishers have to supply free of charge copies of every book they publish to the British Museum and to certain university libraries.

Mr. Maudling

I am not proposing to introduce legislation to repeal Section 15 of the Copyright Act, 1911.

Mr. Fisher

Is my right hon. Friend aware that about 130,000 books a year are provided free of charge to these libraries but that the cost to the authors and publishers is about £100,000 per annum? Does he really think that this penal levy is fair to book producers? Why should they provide the subsidy, and why cannot universities themselves pay for the books which they require?

Mr. Maudling

I think that my hon. Friend is possibly over-estimating the burden on the publishers. In 1952 the Copyright Committee said: In view of the long-standing nature of the privilege and obligation, and what we feel to be the comparatively small burden it creates for the publishing trade as a whole in relation to their turnover it did not recommend the discontinuance of the custom. I think that, on the whole, I would agree with that.

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