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Public Lending Right

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A public lending right (PLR) is a program intended to either compensate authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries[1] or as a governmental support of the arts, through support of works available in public libraries, such as books, music and artwork.

Thirty-five countries have a PLR program,[2] and others are considering adopting one. Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, all the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Malta and New Zealand currently have PLR programmes. There is ongoing[when?] debate in France about implementing one. There is also a move towards having a Europe-wide PLR programme administered by the European Union.

In the United States the Authors Guild began a campaign in support of the PLR in 2018.[3]

The first PLR programme was initiated in Denmark in 1941.[4] However, it was not properly implemented until 1946 due to World War II.[5] The idea spread slowly from country to country and many nations' PLR programs are quite recent developments.

National variations[edit]

PLR programmes vary from country to country.[6] Some, like Germany and the Netherlands, have linked PLR to copyright legislation and have made libraries liable to pay authors for every book in their collection.[7] Other countries do not connect PLR to copyright.[clarification needed]

In Denmark, the current programme is considered a type of governmental support of the arts, not reimbursement of potential lost sales.[8] Types of works supported are books, music, and visual artworks, created and published in Denmark, and available in public and school libraries.

In the UK, authors Brigid Brophy and Maureen Duffy spearheaded a campaign to achieve a public lending right, following on from John Brophy's original notion in the 1950s of 'The Brophy Penny'.[citation needed] The UK PLR scheme was established with the Public Lending Right Act 1979 which was further expanded in 1982. It was incorporated into the British Library in 2013.[9]


How amounts of payment are determined also varies from country to country. For example, in the UK, pay is based on how many times a book has been taken out of a library, while in Canada, the system of payment is based on whether a library owns a book or not.

The amount of payments is also variable. The amount any one author can receive is never very considerable. In the United Kingdom authors are paid on a per-loan basis calculated from a representative sample of libraries.[9] The rate in 2019 was 8.52 pence per individual loan.[10] In Canada, annual payment is based on the following equation:

Payment per title = Hit Rate (C$63.97 for 2021–21) × # libraries where title is found × % share × time adjusted,

where the number of libraries is counted from a national sample (number of copies in each library is irrelevant); share is the percentage contribution to the work (e.g. for books with co-authors, illustrators, translators, or narrators); and the time adjustment is 100% for the first 5 years, decreasing to 50% after 16 years, and is 0% after 25 years. The formula is applied to each title registered by the contributor. As of 2024, there is a maximum of C$4,500 that any one person can receive in a year.[11]

Eligibility criteria[edit]

Different countries also have differing eligibility criteria. In most nations only published works are accepted, government publications are rarely counted, nor are bibliographies or dictionaries.[citation needed] Some PLR services are mandated solely to fund literary works of fiction, and some such as Norway, have a sliding scale paying far less to non-fiction works.[citation needed] Many nations also exclude scholarly and academic texts.

EU directive[edit]

Within the European Union, the public lending right is regulated since November 1992 by directive 92/100/EEC on rental right and lending right. A report in 2002 from the European Commission[12] pointed out that many member countries had failed to implement this directive correctly.

The PLR directive has met with resistance from the side of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The IFLA has stated that the principles of 'lending right' can jeopardize free access to the services of publicly accessible libraries, which is the citizen's human right.[13] The PLR directive and its implementation in public libraries is rejected by a number of European authors, including Nobel Laureates Dario Fo and José Saramago.[14] Conversely, more than 3000 authors signed a petition opposing PLR cuts in the UK in 2010.[15][16]


  1. ^ Chatterjee, Neel (1995). "Imperishable Intellectual Creations: The Limits of the First Sale Doctrine". Fordham Intellectual Property Media and Entertainment Law Journal. 5: 391.
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on Public Lending Right (PLR)" (PDF). PLR International. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  3. ^ Schroeder, Sarah Bartlett. 2021. "Librarian Responses to Public Lending Rights in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and Implications for the United States." Library Quarterly 91 (1): 52–63.
  4. ^ Parker, Jim. "The Public Lending Right and What It Does". World Intellectual Property Organization. WIPO Magazine. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  5. ^ Stave, Thomas (1981). "Public Lending Right: a History of the Idea" (PDF). Library Trends. 29 (4). Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: 569–582. ISSN 0024-2594. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  6. ^ Sani Stores, Farida (24 May 2020). "From the IFLA Bureau for International Lending". IFLA Journal. 10 (3): 310–314. doi:10.1177/034003528401000314. ISSN 0340-0352. S2CID 220899211.
  7. ^ "The public lending right and what it does". www.wipo.int. Retrieved 2023-09-07.
  8. ^ Styrelsen for Bibliotek og Medier Archived 2009-09-12 at the Wayback Machine (Danish) 2009-08-19
  9. ^ a b "Public Lending Right: About us". The British Library. Archived from the original on 29 January 2023. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  10. ^ "UK PLR statements released". The British Library.
  11. ^ "How Payments Work". Public Lending Rights Program. Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  12. ^ Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee on the public lending right in the European Union (PDF), 2002-09-16
  13. ^ The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Position on PLR Archived 2006-10-10 at the Wayback Machine (April 2005)
  14. ^ "Campagna europea contro l'introduzione del prestito a pagamento in biblioteca (in Italian)". Nopago.org. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  15. ^ "Authors urged to hit campaign trail over PLR cuts threat". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2022-12-14.
  16. ^ "Statement on PLR by Authors: a petition for writers". ALCS. Archived from the original on Oct 3, 2010. Retrieved 2022-12-14.

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