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20.08.09 | Graeme Neill
Public Lending Right could be extended to include non-print books such as e-books and audiobooks, under proposals put forward in an industry-wide government consultation.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched the consultation into how extending Public Lending Right would affect agents, publishers and rights holders. The government department has also proposed extending PLR to include the producers and performers of non-print books—such as an actor reading an audiobook.
More than 11 million audiobooks were loaned by libraries in 2007/08 and the DCMS noted increasing demand for e-books. The consultation document stated: "The last 30 years—particularly the last 10—have seen significant shifts in the way in which people access books, for purpose and for pleasure, and the evolving digital environment is changing the expectations of library users."
PLR pays authors each time a book is borrowed from a library—this equates to 5.98p per loan according to 2009 figures. However, non-print formats are protected by copyright law, so the rights holders and the libraries need to negotiate licensing loans.
The DCMS added: "It is our understanding that regular formal licensing arrangements are not always achieved to the satisfaction of libraries or rights holders. It is the government's view that the current system is not working as it is too complex, that rights holders are not being adequately protected and that growth of non-print book lending may be inhibited."
The consultation will close on 16th October. The government's Digital Britain report, which examined new media, published in June also recommended extending PLR to other non-print books.