Public Lending Right set to increase next year after library loans ‘fall’

Sci-Fi-Art Now UK Cover
My 2010 Sci-Fi Art Now book continues to be borrowed in libraries. Thank you, borrowers!

Comic creators and authors whose work is offered through libraries will be pleased to hear that Public Lending Right (PLR) will increase next year after The British Library Board proposed that the current 6.66 pence per loan should increase to 7.67 pence.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have said they intend to accept the recommendation.

Dominic Lake, Deputy Director of Arts, Libraries and Cultural Property at the DCMS said: “The proposed increase has been possible due to efficiency savings and increased income, and in part as a result of a reduction in the estimated number of loans of books registered for PLR. The DCMS notes the British Library Board’s recommendation that the 2016 payments are made at an increased rate per loan of 7.67 pence and propose to amend the PLR Scheme accordingly.”

Whilst welcoming the move to increase the fund, the Society of Authors has written to Mr Lake, to ask him to further safeguard the PLR fund, a stance supported by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, who issue PLR payments.

The letter asks the Government to:

  • Ringfence the PLR Fund and protect library services from any future spending review (many libraries face closure due to government cuts – last week Lancashire County Council alone announced 40 would close next year in an effort to help save millions thanks to reduced government funding)
  • Extend PLR to volunteer libraries; since the Government’s austerity measures, many libraries are now run by volunteers meaning they fall outside of the PLR remit, hence the fall in loans stated by Mr Lake
  • Remunerate authors for all types of loans on all types of books; this includes all ‘remote’ lending. Currently any e-books lent onside are subject to PLR. However most e-books are lent off-site (remotely) and so also fall outside the parameters of PLR.

“We are sad to note the decrease in the estimate loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme,” noted Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors. “We urge the Government to include volunteer-run libraries with the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated.”

She went on to say: “We understand that the Government is considering plans to bring in PLR payments for remote e-lending. Libraries now remotely lend a significant number of e-books and it is only fair that authors should be remunerated for these. Publishers have been reluctant to ensure that authors receive a fair share of licensing revenues for remote lending.”

Commenting separately on the latest Spending Review, announced last week, the SoA noted one striking omission is the lack of any mention of the public library service from Chancellor George Osborne’s support for the arts as “one of the best investments we can make as a nation”.

“Libraries are a vital service and are already under threat,’ the SoA notes. “They now face further damage because of cuts to local authority budgets confirmed in this review. If the Government is looking to ‘invest in Britain’s future’ then these key services must be maintained.”

Barbara Hayes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, also welcomed the increase but questioned evidence of library loans falling. She said: “Whilst an increase to the PLR loan rate is a positive move, ALCS support the SoA’s stance that the true figure of library loans is not reflected in the data. The irony is not lost on us that loans have gone down due to both library closures as well as volunteer libraries being excluded from the PLR scheme, therefore enabling an increase to the loan rate this year. We urge the Government to urgently reconsider the scope of PLR so that authors are properly remunerated whenever their books are borrowed.”

Electronic lending through libraries also does not qualify book authors for PLR.

ALCS today has a membership of over 87,000 writers, has paid out £380 million to writers and is still owned and run by its writer Members.

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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