It was particularly appropriate that IAF’s AGM last month was hosted by the Authors Guild at their offices in New York. The Guild recently launched its campaign to achieve Public Lending Right (PLR) in the US, sparking much interest and enthusiasm among the authors who listened to the PLR International (PLRI) speakers at the seminar immediately after the AGM. PLRI brings together the 34 countries that now have PLR systems and provides advice to others that would like to set up PLR for the first time. Working in partnership with IAF, and with funding from the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), PLRI supports PLR developments internationally and has never been busier.
The EU’s Lending Right Directive (introduced as long ago as 1992) requires member states to introduce PLR for their authors, but several have failed to do so. Of these, Greece is poised to launch its first PLR system, and there are active campaigns being run by authors’ organisations in Romania and Bulgaria. That leaves only Portugal where the government has introduced PLR in name only by excluding all public libraries from its coverage. Failure to implement the Directive’s PLR requirements risks court action by the European Commission and this may be a route that IAF and PLRI recommend to the Commission if the countries concerned continue to drag their feet.
Further afield in Hong Kong, an alliance of authors and publishers has secured a commitment from the government to establish PLR. Discussions continue on how the new arrangements could be implemented. In Africa, Malawi and Zanzibar (part of Tanzania but in charge of its own copyright law) are working on draft PLR regulations. Other African countries, such as Algeria and Burkina Faso, have adopted PLR in their legislation but have not yet set-up PLR schemes. In Turkey, at the urging of PLRI, draft copyright legislation awaiting parliamentary approval includes provision for PLR for book loans in public and educational libraries.
To help promote PLR worldwide, we hold a twice-yearly international PLR conference. The next conference is to be hosted in London in September by the British Library, which has responsibility for UK PLR. As well as providing scope for discussion of all the developments outlined above, the conference will also be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the UK’s PLR Act of 1979 that Maureen Duffy and her doughty band of authors achieved after many years of campaigning: a fitting example for authors everywhere fighting to implement PLR in their own countries.
Update from Jim Parker, PLR International Co-ordinator