Law and the justice system – guidance

Public lending right: how it applies

How sample data is collected from libraries to calculate public lending right payments

Which libraries fall under the scheme

Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, library authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. This means they must provide public library services which best meet local need in light of their available resources. Library authorities will know which libraries fall within their statutory public service and which libraries do not.

The public lending right (PLR) registrar will use information provided by library authorities to determine whether a library falls within the PLR scheme and, therefore, if loans of books from those libraries would be used to calculate PLR payments to authors.

A community-supported library can, in some circumstances, form part of a library authority’s statutory provision. In such cases, it would fall within the PLR scheme.

How data for public lending right payments is collected

PLR payments to authors are based on loans data collected from a representative sample of public library authorities across the UK. The registrar changes the composition of the sample each year so that no library authority participates for more than 4 years. This allows the registrar to take into account any changes in the make-up of individual library authorities and enables him to maintain a fair and representative library sample for authors across the country.

If a library sits wholly outside the statutory public library service, it may still lend books to the public without breaching copyright. It would not have to enter into separate agreements with authors to lend their books and to provide payments to authors. This also applies to other not-for-profit educational libraries sitting outside of local council provision.

Find out more about how the library sample works on the PLR website.

The Rental and Lending Directive (92/100/EEC, codified by 2006/115/EC)

The Public Lending Rights Act 1979

Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964

Section 40A(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Regulation 35 of the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 1996

Paragraphs 2-6 of Part A of Schedule 1 to the Copyright (Librarians and Archivists)(Copying of Copyright Material) Regulations 1989