Department for Culture Media and Sport

public lending right – how it applies

Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, library authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. This means they must provide public library services which best meet local need in light of their available resources. Library authorities will know which libraries fall within their statutory public service and which libraries do not.
The Public Lending Right (PLR) Registrar will use information provided by library authorities to determine whether a library falls within the PLR scheme and, therefore, if loans of books from those libraries would be used for calculating PLR payments to authors.

A community-supported library can, in some circumstances, form part of a library authority’s statutory provision. In such cases, it would fall within the PLR scheme.

PLR payments to authors are based on loans data collected from a representative sample of public library authorities located across the UK. The Registrar changes the composition of the sample each year with no library authority participating for more than four years. This allows the Registrar to take into account any changes in the make-up of individual library authorities and enables him to maintain a fair and representative library sample for authors across the country. Further information about how the library sample works is available on the PLR website.

If a library sits wholly outside the statutory public library service, it may still lend books to the public without breaching copyright. It would not have to enter into separate agreements with authors to lend their books and to provide payments to authors. This also applies to other not-for-profit educational libraries sitting outside of local authority provision.

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