Government seeking ways to expand PLR to audio and e books

The Government is seeking ways to extend the public lending rights (PLR) programme so it can include non-print publications such as audio books and ebooks. This, to me, is excellent news for authors. Many of my works are available as e books and audio books and are loaned out in libraries.

The PLR programme compensates authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries. The amounts paid 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. But it only applies to printed publications.

The PLR on printed books is a lifeline for many authors and although does not provide huge amounts of money (the maximum pay out to any author no matter how many times a book is loaned is £6,000) it is very welcome indeed.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that there were more than 11 million loans of audio books in 2007/08 and with new technologies being developed, public libraries are facing increasing demand for ebooks. A consultation has been launched to get responses to its proposals.

The Digital Britain final report, published in June 2009, also recommended looking at extending PLR.

The DCMS is urging rights holders and other interested parties to participate in a public consultation to discuss ways to extend PLR to non-print publications. If you are a member of a writers' organisation such as the The Society of Authors you can voice your views via them. Alternatively you can respond to the DCMS individually.

The consultation ends on 16 October. So get your views in and take some time to vote on my online poll.