The government is expanding the Public Lending Right (PLR) to include e-books and e-audiobooks, meaning their authors will be eligible for payment in the same way as those whose physical books are borrowed from libraries.

Authors will be paid from a government fund that compensates authors for loaning their works for free from public libraries. The pot of money allocated to PLR, £6.6m, will not change, a spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed, with the maximum any one author can claim £6,600 per year. 

The catalyst for the change, taking effect for all loans from 2018, stems from a judgement in November in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It held the definition of lending by public libraries in European copyright law also includes remote electronic lending, thus removing the final barrier to its expansion. 

The UK is one of the first countries to extend its library lending compensation scheme to remote e-lending, following amendments to the Digital Economy Bill. 

Rob Wilson, minister for civil society, and responsible for libraries, called it an “important change” that would help libraries to embrace the digital age and put e-book authors on “the same footing” as other writers, illustrators and photographers whose physical books are borrowed for free. “This legislation fulfils a manifesto commitment and underlines our support for the growing e-book sector, while ensuring that appropriate protections for rights holders are maintained,” he added.

Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors (SoA), said she was “thrilled” by the news, having campaigned on the issue for many years, and following the work put into wording amendments to the bill in consultation with publishers, authors, libraries and bookshops.

“We are thrilled at this announcement. The SoA has been pressing for PLR to be extended to e-book lending for many years and we have worked hard with booksellers, libraries, agents publishers and the Government to find wording which addresses an anomaly which sees authors receive a small payment (around 7p) via PLR when physical copies of their books or audiobooks are loaned but nothing when they are remotely lent in digital format but ensures that the balances currently in place to protect authors, publishers and booksellers remain. Another very pleasing aspect of this work is to see how the whole industry has worked together constructively to push for this change and iron out all the concerns,” she said….

Læs resten af artiklen på The Bookseller: