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DCMS accused of ‘incompetence’ over PLR confusion
18.07.12 | Lisa Campbell
The Society of Authors has joined ranks with the shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis in criticising the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for the lack of guidance given to councils and volunteer-run libraries on paying PLR.
The DCMS has now clarified that only libraries run by local authorities will be covered by public lending right (PLR) legislation. Jarvis has accused the government of “incompetence” for failing in its duty to make clear the position over volunteer-run libraries and PLR at an earlier stage. There has also been confusion over whether volunteer-run libraries would be in breach of copyright legislation by lending out books.
Jarvis said: “This out of touch government encouraged councils to shuffle libraries off to community groups, without thinking through the implications or potential pitfalls of doing so. Dozens of volunteer libraries have already been set up, but there has been real confusion over whether they could be found in breach of copyright legislation.
"DCMS now say[s] volunteer libraries can lend but it is still unclear whether, and how, they will pay anything to authors. It’s a shambles and symptomatic of a lack of interest in the future of the service that threatens to undermine library provision even more than it already has been."
General secretary of the SoA, Nicola Solomon, this morning (18th July) wrote to culture minister Ed Vaizey saying the fact that community-run libraries are not covered by PLR raised “a number of concerns”. She suggested that the clarification on PLR may mean the government is failing in its duty to provide a comprehensive library service and to pay authors for the loaning of their books under law.
Solomon said: “DCMS has now confirmed that it is their understanding that 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.”
Solomon added that the government must provide clearer direction on how PLR might be paid if the volunteer-run libraries share the same Lending Right Scheme as council-run libraries. She said: “We urge the government to provide clear guidance to volunteers and the PLR issues on how these issues are to be tackled without delay and to explain how this model satisfies the requirement to provide a comprehensive library service.”
She also reiterated her calls for the government to extend PLR to e-book and audiobook loans as it is meant to be under Section 43 of the Digital Economy Act 2010, saying the payments have never been implemented and that this is “patently unjust”.