Authors are paid 6.05p every time their physical books are borrowed from the UK's public libraries, up to a maximum of £6,600, under the government-funded Public Lending Right scheme. But ebooks and audiobooks, a growing sector for library users, are not currently included in the scheme, even though the Digital Economy Act of 2010 paved the way for this to be done.
Nicola Solomon of the Society of Authors called it "terribly unfair" and said that "authors should be properly remunerated" for their work. "It's very important to understand that authors do rely on PLR – it's not just a nice little bonus. Many authors get PLR who are not bestsellers but do very well in libraries. People borrow very different books from the book they buy," she said. "And authors can't continue to write if they are not paid for their work."
Authors have a legal right to the payments, she said – and could even consider going to court to recover them. "Since 1992 'rental and lending right' has been a part of copyright protection. That means that authors have a legal right to equitable remuneration whenever their works are lent out," she said. "The failure to make the payments means that the government and libraries are actually infringing the author's copyright every time they make an ebook loan and authors would be entitled to sue for the losses caused by that infringement. We have no current plans to sue, and don't know of any authors who are planning to do so – we would hope that the Government would recognise its legal and moral responsibility to make payments to authors particularly as ebook lending from libraries is becoming significant."
Full story at The Guardian.