Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
VWL5072
[Monday 2 July, 1956]

Sir,
We, the undersigned, feel very strongly that the attention of the House of Commons should be drawn to the inadequacy of the "mechanical royalty" of 6¼ per cent payable in respect of words and music under the terms of the new Copyright Bill.
At the time when this royalty rate was first established, nearly 30 years ago, gramophone records were sold and bought almost exclusively for private use in the home, and the income from "mechanical royalties" enjoyed by author and composer was considerably supplemented by the large sales of printed music for live performance.  To-day gramophone records have largley replaced the live performer in so many public places of entertainment - dance halls, theatres, clubs, cafés, public houses, &c. - that the sale of what is called "sheet music" has dwindled to almost nothing with the result that author and composer have for their income now to rely primarily upon records.
On the Continent, where "mechanical royalty" is not fixed by lax, the rate now in force, as the result of free negotiation between the interests concerned, is 8½ per cent.  Would it be too much to ask that our own legislature should either bring the royalty in this country up to the same figure or else leave the matter open to negotiation, as it is on the Continent?
We are, Sir, yours, &c.
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss, William Alwyn, Montague Phillips, Haydn Wood, Eric Coates, Vivian Ellis, Eric Maschwitz.

General notes: 

Printed in The Times newspaper, Monday 2 July, 1956, headed "Record Royalties".

Format: 
Letter
Citation: 
The Times (no.53572), Monday, July 2, 1956, p.9.