UK Govt Will Now Pay Authors Each Time Their eBook is Loaned From a Public Library

It is a common practice in Europe and in many of Great Britain’s former colonies for public libraries to pay authors each time one of their books is loaned from a library. That practice is called Public Lending Rights, and in most countries, it does not cover ebooks and audiobooks – just print books.

According to The Bookseller, the UK gov’t expanded PLR this week to include ebooks:

Authors will be paid from a government fund that compensates authors for loaning their works for free from public libraries.

The catalyst for the change stems from a judgement in November in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It held the definition of lending by public libraries in European copyright law also includes remote electronic lending, thus removing the final barrier to its expansion.

The UK is one of the first countries to extend its library lending compensation scheme to remote e-lending, following amendments to the Digital Economy Bill.

Rob Wilson, minister for civil society, and responsible for libraries, called it an “important change” that would help libraries to embrace the digital age and put e-book authors on “the same footing” as other writers, illustrators and photographers whose physical books are borrowed for free. “This legislation fulfils a manifesto commitment and underlines our support for the growing e-book sector, while ensuring that appropriate protections for rights holders are maintained,” he added.


Under the PLR system in the UK, authors can earn up to £6,600 each year. Some countries, including Ireland, don’t have a defined upper threshold. The UK PLR payments are paid annually, and are based on “the estimated number of times a book is borrowed nationally. Estimates are produced from data collected from a sample of library authorities throughout the UK.”

image by ellen forsyth

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Sheryl Nantus23 February, 2017

    Yep – this started last year in Canada! Just got my check from the Canada Council for the Arts for a lovely little sum that included not only my paperbacks but also ebooks!

    Now if only the US could figure this out…

  2. David23 February, 2017

    Do they pay the authors or the publishers?

    1. Sheryl Nantus23 February, 2017

      In Canada, it goes straight to the authors. You have to register the books, supply the copyright information and so forth.

      1. Nate Hoffelder23 February, 2017

        The same is true in the uUK.

  3. Irish Imbas24 February, 2017

    An interesting development. In Ireland and New Zealand, the public lending right is a compensation to the author for the lending use of their material and I think (but I’m not entirely sure) that you have to be a citizen or a resident of the country to get it. It’ll be interesting to see if it expands to eboosk elsewhere.

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