Public Lending Right (PLR) and Volunteer Libraries


See PLR and volunteer-run libraries – The Society of Authors.  The following is a another recent (November 2013) communication from the Society of Authors:

“Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property creates a “rental and lending right” under which authors have the exclusive right, subject to limitations, to authorise or prohibit the rental or lending of their works [Art. 2(1)]. The rental and lending right may be transferred. However, even once the rental and lending right is transferred, the author or performer retains an inalienable and unwaivable right to equitable compensation for the rental and lending of their works. Member States may allow a derogation for public lending (i.e. public libraries) provided that authors obtain payment. DCMS have now confirmed that it is their understanding that some of the new community libraries are not covered by PLR, as they are outside the statutory library service. Under the Council Directive authors are entitled to equitable compensation for any such loans. However, it seems that the Government may have failed in its obligations to enact appropriate UK law for this purpose:

1        The copyright legislation (Section 40A(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; regulation 35 of the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 1996; and paras 2-6 of Part A of Schedule 1 to the Copyright (Librarians and Archivists)(Copying of Copyright Material) Regulations 1989.) makes provision for a category of libraries called ‘prescribed libraries’ to lend out books without the need to seek copyright permissions. However detailed regulations have not yet been included in the copyright legislation setting out how libraries can qualify as ‘prescribed libraries’ and as a result the 1996 Regulations (section 35) say that ‘until the making of regulations’ a ‘prescribed library’  shall be ‘construed as any library’  prescribed by paragraphs 2-6 in the Schedule to the 1989 Copyright Regulations including the national libraries, educational libraries and others including ‘any other library conducted for the purpose of facilitating or encouraging the study of bibliography, education, fine arts, history, languages, law, literature …’ ). It is clearly unsatisfactory and in breach of Council Directive 92/100/EEC that all libraries other than statutory libraries should be exempt from remunerating authors for loans. In my previous letters we called on the Government immediately to rectify this by making appropriate regulations under s40A(2) of the CDPA. We have asked that the Government will make such Regulations or explain how authors will be remunerated for the rental and lending of their works from volunteer libraries.

2        The Government says say that the key determinant for inclusion of any library within the PLR regime is whether the local authority considers that particular library to be part of its statutory library service as set out in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. This seems to be a much narrower interpretation than the reference to “public lending” in the Directive. Clause 14 of the preamble to the Directive says that any measures taken by way of derogation from the exclusive public lending right should comply in particular with Article 12 of the Treaty.

Despite many requests the Government has failed to explain:

i.      How exempting volunteer libraries from PLR is in accord with the definition of “public lending” in the Directive;

ii.      If it is intended that such exemption is a permitted derogation under Article 6 of the Directive, how that derogation could be considered proportionate or otherwise comply with Treaty obligations:

 iii.      If volunteer libraries are exempted from being part of the statutory library service, how local authorities can comply with their obligation to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ public library service under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.”

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