What is Public Lending Right (PLR)?

PLR is the legal right that authors have to receive payment, preferably from governments, to compensate them for the free lending out of their books by public and other libraries.

Currently 35 countries across the world have PLR systems; the first country to establish a PLR system was Denmark in 1946, followed by Norway in 1947 and Sweden in 1954.

Each country has a different approach, but generally PLR payments are directly funded by government and do not come from library budgets. Most commonly PLR is distributed to authors in the form of payments related to how often their works have been lent out by libraries but a variety of other PLR systems exist. PLR is important as it recognises the contribution authors make to cultural life and PLR payments can make a real difference to authors’ lives. PLR does not replace the royalties authors would receive if the books had been purchased by each borrower, but it does provide a significant and much-valued part of many authors’ incomes, particularly to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being read. PLR can offer a vital protection to local writers, by creating an additional revenue stream that will fund their ongoing contribution to culture.

We recommend you read Public Lending Right (PLR): An Introductory Guide which the IAF worked with PLR International to publish, and the Charter of Best PLR Practice.

What we do to promote PLR

The IAF promotes the development of PLR systems worldwide through advocacy and information sharing. At the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) the IAF speaks in support of PLR to government representatives from around the world, and helps arrange events to promote information sharing about PLR.

The IAF is a partner of the PLR International Network and supports its goals of getting wider recognition for PLR.