European Court ruling opens the way for PLR on ebooks

Our view: European Court ruling on Netherlands case removes the final barrier to applying Public Lending Right (PLR) to the remote public lending of ebooks and audiobooks.

The Society of Authors welcomes yesterday’s judgment from the European Court of Justice on the case of Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken v Stichting Leenrecht, which concludes that ‘the public lending exception, which provides inter alia for the fair remuneration of authors, is applicable’.

The ruling, based on a ‘one copy, one user’ approach to public library lending, confirms our own reading of the relevant law, on which we have campaigned for several years to ensure fairer remuneration for authors and a more consistent PLR regime for their works.

It comes only a week after completion of the Digital Economy Bill’s committee stage, which saw the withdrawal of an amendment to extend PLR to remotely lent ebooks. Minister Matt Hancock commented that the Government has been considering ways to remunerate authors for remote e-lending from libraries, but said that any changes must be compatible with the Copyright Directive while we remain in the EU. He said that the result of this week’s ruling should inform the wording of an appropriate Clause.

We are already talking to cross-industry partners about what the ruling should mean for UK digital lending of ebooks from libraries.

We are pressing for PLR on remote e-lending to be incorporated into a Government approved amendment to the Digital Economy Bill in the Lords early in 2017.

Read the European Court ruling in full