Public Lending Right

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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, all the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Malta and New Zealand currently have PLR programmes. There is ongoing 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.[citation needed] Other countries do not connect PLR to copyright. For a nation like Canada or Australia the majority of funds would be going to authors outside the country, much of it to the United States, which is unpalatable to those nations.[citation needed]

In Denmark, the current programme is considered a type of governmental support of the arts, not reimbursement of potential lost sales.[7] Types of works supported are books, music, and visual artworks, created and published in Denmark, and available in public and school libraries.


How amounts of payment are determined also varies from country to country. Some pay based on how many times a book has been taken out of a library, others use a simpler system of payment based simply on whether a library owns a book or not.[citation needed]

The amount of payments is also variable. The amount any one author can receive is never very considerable. In Canada for instance the payment, which is based on the following equation: Payment per title = Hit Rate (C$63.97 for 2021–21) x # libraries where title is found x % share x time adjusted, has a maximum of C$4,500 (in 2021) for any one author in a year.[8] In the United Kingdom authors are paid on a per-loan basis calculated from a representative sample of libraries.[9] The current rate is 8.52 pence per individual loan.[10]

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[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] Conversely, more than 3000 authors signed a petition opposing PLR cuts[where?] in 2010.[citation needed]


  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. Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 29 (4): 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. ^ Styrelsen for Bibliotek og Medier Archived 2009-09-12 at the Wayback Machine (Danish) 2009-08-19
  8. ^ "How Payments Work". Public Lending Rights Program. Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  9. ^ "British Library page on Public Lending Right". Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  10. ^ "UK PLR statements released". The British Library.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Position on PLR Archived 2006-10-10 at the Wayback Machine (April 2005)
  13. ^ "Campagna europea contro l'introduzione del prestito a pagamento in biblioteca (in Italian)". Retrieved 2010-10-01.

External links[edit]