The government will consult on plans for the extension of Public Lending Right (PLR) to cover e-books and audiobooks borrowed from libraries, with PLR registrar Dr Jim Parker calling the move a "positive step".
The Treasury's Spending Round document, released yesterday (27th June), laid out a plan to consult on the possible extension of PLR, currently only paid to authors when "printed and bound" books are lent, from July 2014.
Parker said: "The idea has been around since the Digital Economy Act, which came in just as the last government was going out. The new government decided to park it for economic reasons, and it is the Sieghart Review that has prompted them to revisit it. To make the change will require a change in legislation, so it will have to be consulted on, but it feels like a very positive step."
The Sieghart Review, published in March, was the result of an independent review into e-book lending at public libraries. William Sieghart, who led the review, concluded that the PLR should be extended, with a growth in the PLR pot.
The 2010 Digital Economy Act first opened the way for PLR to be extended; however, it was never implemented. Sieghart also suggested that PLR should be extended to e-books that are lent remotely, away from library buildings, something which the new announcement does not mention.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the PLR function will be moved to the British Library in October, despite a consultation showing that an overwhelming majority of people did not want to see any changes made to how it operated.
This week, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee reviewed the decision and concluded the move should not go ahead, however, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it will continue to work for the change, believing it would lead to a £750,000 saving over 10 years.
Each year, PLR pays millions of pounds to authors. In 2013, its 30th year, it plans to pay £6.4m to more than 23,000 authors, at the rate of 6.2 per loan.