Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
Dec. 9, 1929

The White Gates, Westcott-road,

May I protest against the action of those who are trying to make this controversy over the proposed Copyright Bill into a party question?  There are composers of all shades of political opinion, and I should be sorry for this discussion to degenerate into a "class war."  It will do the composer little good to fulminate about a "scandalous Bill," to raise the "anti-Socialist" bogy, or to make cheap gibes about Labour members.
The promoters of this Bill are voicing a very real grievance, though they probably realize now that they have gone the wrong way to work to remedy it.  The wrongs suffered by village institutes and the like are not, as one writer says, "sickly cant," but are genuine hardships endured at the hands of the accredited agents of the composers.
I believe that all right-minded musicians wish that the art they serve should be shared freely and unrestrictedly by all sorts and conditions of men, provided, of course, that "they who serve the altar" shall be able to "live of the altar."
We composers must make sure that our own house is in order.  We must see to it that our agents do not use the power given them by law for the purposes of tyranny and intimidation.  Let us frankly admit that the law needs amendment, though not on the lines laid down in this Bill: we can then press our claims with clear consciences.
Yours faithfully,
Ralph Vaughan Williams

General notes: 

Printed in The Times newspaper, Tuesday, 10 December 1929, headed "Musical copyright: a word to composers".

The Times (no.45382), Tuesday, December 10, 1929, p.12.