Library of bauble?

SEVERAL members have alerted us to the British Library Direct document supply service at - which offers articles from newspapers and journals for sale on line. In addition to a service charge, which starts at £7.45+VAT, most documents (all the ones we've checked) incur a "copyright fee" of £5.00.

Gateway to the British Library; photo copyright Matt Salusbury
And what shall it cost a writer to pass this gateway?

We were intrigued to know to whom the Library pays these copyright fees. That looks a lot like syndication of articles to individual readers. And traditionally journalists (who haven't assigned all rights in their work) are paid half the income from syndication.

So we wrote the to Library to ask where the money was going. Chief Executive Lynne Brindley replied that it's all cleared with the publishers. Now we're working with the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society to find out out what the publishers do with the money.

Writers may want to see what of your work is featured there. Simply visit the above web address and put your name in the search box.

Meanwhile, NUJ member Heather Brooke - our speaker on Freedom of Information at the September Branch meeting - is getting together a British Library Users' Group. Though likely to be concerned with the ban on pens in the reading rooms (pencils only since January!) and the absurd price of wireless internet connections, this could be of interest to NUJ members - any of whom can get a five-year Readers' Card on presentation of a valid Press Card.

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