Digital Economy Bill to extend Public Lending Rights for authors

Authors opposed to the Digital Economy Bill, which was rushed through the Commons in advance of the general election, have expressed relief at the removal of Clause 43, which covered provisions for extended licensing as well as for orphan works, and welcome the extension of Public Lending Rights to e books and audio books.

Authors and agents had expressed concern that Clause 43 could authorise licensing bodies to grant copyright licences for works even where they did not own the copyright or act on the copyright holder’s behalf.

Gill Spraggs, of campaign group Action on Authors’ Rights, said it was “delighted” to see the clause fall by the wayside. She said: “The ‘orphan works’ provisions lacked the safeguards necessary to protect the rights of unlocated authors, and the government never did explain the intentions behind the proposals for extended licensing, which were troublingly broad and vague.”

In terms of extending Public Lending Rights (PLR) there is good news for authors with the extension of the PLR scheme to library loans of e-books and audiobooks. Work on redrafting legislation will begin after the election.

Public Lending Right registrar Jim Parker said, “The collection of data on e-books will be quite different with issues around ISBNs, and with audiobooks we will have two new groups of rightsholders—not just the authors, but also the narrators and producers.”