Public Lending Right registrar Jim Parker has said that under existing legislation, PLR payments to authors for their library loans will not apply to books loaned by volunteer-run libraries which are no longer run by local authorities.
In a response to a query from Lewisham library campaigners, Parker said: "Under the PLR legislation, PLR only applies to public libraries administered by local library authorities as defined by the Public Libraries Act (1964). This, therefore, would exclude library branches no longer run by the local authority and taken over by voluntary groups." However Parker said it would be a "grey area" in locations where local authorities were allowing volunteers to run branches while still remaining under their umbrella.
Parker added that wider questions were also raised wider questions about what should be done about remuneration for authors in such cases. "My understanding is that under the UK's copyright legislation book lending is a copyright act and a licence may be needed - except where PLR applies. In the past all public library lending was covered by PLR. But if we are to see more branch libraries dropping out of the statutory service and being reconstituted as privately-run libraries the government may want to look again at the existing legislation," he said.
Nicola Solomon, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: "If PLR isn't being paid by a library then the library has to pay for that use of copyright in another way or it is infringing copyright. If we saw libraries that weren't paying PLR, we'd want them to be paying something analogous as recompense to authors. We'd have to do think about how to do it and how to enforce it."