The Public and Educational Lending Right Schemes
The Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) schemes are Federal Government programs which make payments to eligible creators and publishers, in recognition of lost income resulting from loans and other free uses of their books in public and educational lending libraries. There are similar PLR schemes operating in 29 countries, including many in Europe, as well as Canada, Israel and New Zealand, with more in development.
The Public Lending Right scheme has been in operation since 1974 but was given legislative support with the enactment of the Public Lending Right Act 1985 (Cth), which provided the framework for the scheme. The Educational Lending Right scheme was first introduced in 1999 as part of the Federal Government’s Book Industry Assistance Plan, initially for four-years but has since been renewed. The ELR scheme is administered under the ELR Policies and Procedures introduced on 1 July 2004. More information about the schemes can be found here
Eligibility under the PLR and ELR schemes
Under both schemes a creator can be an author, editor, illustrator, translator or compiler. To be eligible for payment a creator must be either an Australian citizen or a permanent resident, be entitled to receive royalties from their books, and must be living. Where a creator has received an upfront royalty they must also have an entitlement to receive ongoing royalties in order to be eligible.
Publishers can also claim PLR and ELR payments under the scheme, provided their business consists wholly or substantially of the publication of books, and they regularly publish in Australia. Self-publishing creators may also be eligible, as may non-profit organisations that publish to further their aims and objectives.
Only books are protected under both schemes. In order to be eligible the book must include an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), have been offered for sale, and have no more than five eligible creators. The book must also have a have a catalogue record in a national bibliographic database.
Making a Claim
Eligible creators can make a claim without the need to engage a copyright lawyer, by registering with the scheme and submitting a title claim online here.
A title claim need only be submitted once for each book unless there are changes to the title, ISBN or to the number. New title claims close on 31 March each year. The first survey is then done for that title over the following financial year, with the first payment made in June at the end of that financial year. For example the closing date for a title claim for a new book published in 2011 is 31 March 2012, the first survey period would be the 2012-13 financial year, with the first payment made in June 2013.
Separate rates of payment are determined each year for creators and publishers under the PLR and ELR schemes. Both schemes determine the amount paid by estimating the number of copies of each eligible book held in Australian public or educational libraries. Amounts of less than $50 are not payable. Although PLR and ELR payments are not subject to GST, claimants must declare such payments for tax purposes.
The PLR rates of payment in 2009-10 for each copy for eligible creators were $1.66, and 41.05 cents for publishers.
The ELR rates of payment are tiered, whereby the rate diminishes the higher the total estimated number of books held. For example in 2009-10 the rate for between 1 and 50 books held was $1.00 for creators and 25 cents for publishers; while the rate for more than 50,000 is around 9.25 cents for creators and 2.31 cents for publishers.
The ELR and PLR schemes can supplement author and publisher income.
Article by Jake Blundell. For inquiries relating to book publishing and copyright law please contact Adam Simpson.