E-lending and the Digital Economy Act: we've long campaigned for PLR to be extended to remote lending ebooks - it looks as though it's finally about to happen.
Public Lending Right (PLR) allows authors to be fairly paid for each loan when their work is lent through public libraries. It was granted in 1979 after a long campaign by the SoA and others. PLR is designed to balance the social need for free public access to books against an author’s right to be remunerated for the use of their work.
The scheme provides authors with a modest payment (around 7p) each time one of their books (written or audio) is borrowed from a public library. Over 22,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors receive PLR payments of up to £6,600 each year.
Although this does not replace the royalties authors would receive if the books had been purchased by each borrower, PLR provides a significant and much-valued part of many authors’ incomes, particularly to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being read.
We lobby for the fund to be maintained and liaise with the PLR office (run by the British Library) to ensure efficient and low cost administration of the scheme. We campaign for the PLR scheme to be extended to voluntary libraries.
PLR for Ebooks
Legislation to extend PLR to include remote loans of ebooks became law as part of the 2017 Digital Economy Act. This followed a long campaign, and discussions between ourselves, authors, publishers, agents and booksellers to balance the rights and concerns of all parties.
An additional piece of secondary legislation needs to be passed, which the Government committed to completing by 1 July 2018, so that the first in arrears payments could be made by February 2020.
Following pressure from the Society of Authors, the Government launched a short consultation on the extension of PLR to e-books and audiobooks at the start of May 2018, with the aim of passing the secondary legislation in early June. This should be in place for the planned start date of 1 July, representing a great victory for SoA members.
We will also be taking the following action to ensure that the implemenation is a success:
- We will work with the PLR office to clarify the ebook registration process
- We will continue to press for the fund to be maintained
- We will press Government to pay the PLR office for the costs of introducing the new scheme and upgrading the present systems for easier use
- And we will continue to campaign for PLR to be extended to volunteer libraries, ending the anomaly under which private lending libraries do not pay authors on loans.
What Can You Do?
If your books are available to borrow from public libraries, make sure you have registered them for PLR - not only your physical books, but your ebooks as well.
Find out more on the PLR website
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