New concerns are growing among UK publishers over the fair compensation for their authors when it comes to library lending, specifically of ebooks. Unlike in the US where an author is only paid when a library purchases a particular title for lending from its catalog, under the UK law Public Lending Right, authors are compensated at each patron checkout, as well. But that might be changing where ebooks are concerned, and it has publishers watching the state of lending very carefully.
At present, ebooks do not fall under the PLR protections, but with more and more consumers reading digital editions on a variety of devices–and borrowing ebooks from their local libraries at ever-increasing rates–publishers have teamed up to work on new government protections for ebooks, at least for those borrowed “on site.”
Unfortunately, a report that was released earlier this year showed that one way publishers are looking into protecting authors is to ban off-site or remote ebook lending, thereby requiring patrons to come into their local libraries in order to borrow ebooks, essentially destroying one of the key advantages to e-reading, namely, the portability and anywhere access to ebooks.
For its part, the government body overseeing the issue has agreed that authors need to be fairly compensated through ebook lending, but also that every possible step must be taken to ensure that ebook lending by both remote and on-site patrons remains a free service to society. In less than pleasant news, though, was the announcement that this coverage of ebooks under PLR should roll out in July of 2014. While interested parties such as the Society of Authors feel like the government is taking steps in the right direction, they are somewhat chagrined by the lengthy wait time before this is implemented.