IMPORTANT NEWS on PLR (2001/2002)


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IMPORTANT NEWS on PLR concerning authors living in the UK and the European Economic Area

With effect from 1 July 2000 Public Lending Right is open to authors living in the European Economic Area (i.e. EC member states plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland). This means that authors resident in these countries, whose books arc borrowed from public libraries in the UK will qualify for PLR. (The first payment will be made in February 2002.)

Under the Public Lending Right system, payment is made to authors whose books are borrowed from public libraries. The amount payable is proportionate to the estimated number of times that an author's books are borrowed nationally during the PLR year (July - June). A Notification of Annual Earnings is sent to registered authors each December or January. Payment is made in February. The maximum anyone may receive is £6,000; earnings that total less than £5 are not paid.

To qualify for PLR in a book you should be named on the title page or be entitled to a royalty payment from the publisher (details of eligibility rulings can be found in our Information for Authors Leaflet - available from the PLR office). If you wish to register your books you will need to complete one of the application forms which are available in English, German and French from the PLR office (see address below). Alternatively you can download them from the PLR web site, href= target=_blank>

If you have any questions please contact Janice Forbes or a member of the Author Services team by telephone or in writing.
Alternatively you may e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or one of the Author Services team
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public Lending Right
Richard House, Sorbonne Close, Stockton-on-Tees  TS17 6DA, UK
Telephone: +44(0)1642 604699   –   Facsimile: +44(0)1642 615641


1. What is Public Lending Right (PLR)?
Public Lending Right is the right of authors to receive payment for free public use of their works in libraries.

2. How long has it existed?
PLR has been around since the 1 940s. The first country to establish a PLR System was Denmark in 1946, followed by Norway in 1947 and Sweden in 1954. The UK System was set up by the PLR Act of 1979.

3. How many countries recognise PLR?
Currently around 30 countries recognise lending rights in their legislation; but of these, only 15 have taken the next step of setting up a PLR scheme. (This should increase to 16 next year (2002) when a PLR scheme is set up in France.) Most of the working systems are in Europe, but PLR can also be found in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Israel.

4. What is the legal basis for PLR?
The 15 national PLR systems fall into 3 broad categories: (a) copyright-based; (b) PLR as a separate remuneration right; (c) PLR as part of State support for culture.
Within the European Union, the 1992 Directive on Lending and Rental Right established a copyright framework for the recognition of authors' lending rights by Member States, and central and east European states seeking membership of the EU.

5. How do these approaches work?
The copyright-based approach can be found in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where lending is seen as a form of copyright exploitation of authors' works. Authors have the right to license the lending of their works by libraries. Arrangements for licensing and distribution of fees are undertaken by collecting societies on behalf of rightsholders.
PLR as a right to remuneration outside copyright exists in the UK. The 1979 PLR Act gives authors a legal right to receive payment from the government for the lending out of their books by public libraries. This is a right to payment, not an exclusive right allowing authors to prohibit or license the lending of their books. The PLR system is administered by the PLR office, a small government agency.
PLR as part of State support for culture exists mainly in the Scandinavian countries where, for example, payments are made only to authors of books written in a Country's native language. This is aimed at encouraging writing in that language, as well as preventing PLR payments going to foreign language authors.

6. How are payments to authors calculated and who qualifies?
The two main methods of calculation are as follows: (a) payment on the basis of how often an author's works are lent out; and (b) payment per copy of an author's work held in libraries.
The PLR Systems in the UK, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel and Iceland all make payments to authors in line with the number of times their books are borrowed. For example, in the UK details of book bans are collected from a sample of public library Computer Systems across the country by the PLR office. This data is used to calculate the estimated number of times that books are borrowed nationally, and payment is made on the basis of 2.49 pence per ban (February 2001 figure).
Alternatively, payment can be made to authors for each copy of their books held by libraries (e.g. in Canada, Australia, Denmark).
Each PLR system has its own rules about who may qualify for payment, but EU Member States cannot discriminate on grounds of nationality. The Scandinavian countries restrict payment to authors writing in particular languages; as a copyright-based systems, the German, Dutch and Austrian need to follow the rules of ,national treatment', and Germany already makes payments to authors in the UK. The UK system is open to authors resident in any country in the European Economic Area.

7. What does the EU Lending Right Directive say?
The Directive gives authors and other rightsholders an exclusive right to license or prohibit the lending of their works by libraries. However, Member States may derogate from an exclusive right provided that they provide remuneration to rightsholders for the ban of their works. Member States are also permitted to exclude from the right bans of authors' works from specific categories of library and to give priority to their national cultural objectives in establishing PLR schemes.

8. How has the Directive been implemented by EU States?
All Member States have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) the Directive in their own copyright legislation. But few Member States that did not already have PLR schemes have gone ahead and set up new systems. The exception here is France, where there are plans to establish a new PLR system next year.
Portugal, Italy and Spain have chosen to take advantage of the flexibilities provided by the Directive to recognise PLR in principle, but to exclude the lending out of works by public libraries from any obligation on the Part of the State to remunerate authors. This seems also to be the line being taken in Ireland.

9. What is the PLR Situation in States seeking membership of the EU?
The following countries have all implemented the Lending Right Directive in their copyright legislation: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Malta, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic (though the law in the last two covers only the lending out of music).
No PLR Systems have been set up yet, though Estonia has a target date of January 2002 and Latvia is aiming for 2003.

10. Where can I get more information about PLR?
Information and advice for countries interested in setting up their own PLR Systems and in interpreting the provisions of the EU Lending Right Directive is available from the International PLR Network. This is an informal network which brings together the 15 national PLR offices and other interested organisations.

It is co-ordinated by Jim Parker, Registrar at the UK's PLR office. More information about the Network and its activities can be found on its web-site at

or direct from the PLR office
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