The Digital Economy Act, passed in March 2010, cleared the way for the UK PLR legislation to be extended to include public library loans of audio-books (‘talking books’) and ebooks downloaded to library premises for taking away as loans (‘on-site’ ebook loans).
The UK PLR Scheme has been extended from 1 July 2014.
NB: Non-print material does not qualify for registration with the Irish PLR scheme and will not be listed on confirmation prints and statements.
Frequently asked questions
Shall I register my ebooks and digital audio downloads?
At present the PLR scheme only permits ebooks which are downloaded on library premises to fixed terminals and then taken away on loan to be included within PLR legislation. Information provided by libraries suggest that the vast majority of ebook and digital audio lending is carried out ‘remotely’ to home PCs and mobile devices, which means the loan does not qualify for PLR. There is nothing stopping you from registering your ebook and audio download editions with us, but please be aware it is very unlikely that loans of this material will generate any PLR earnings until the PLR legislation is amended to include provision for remote ebook loans. (See Will the copyright restrictions change in future? below for further information.)
Will the copyright restrictions change in the future?
On 27 April 2017 the Digital Economy Bill which included provision to extend the UK Public Lending Right legislation to include remote loans of ebooks from public libraries received royal assent. We expect the new arrangements to take effect officially from 1 July 2018 when remote ebook loans data will start to be collected and any payments arising from the newly eligible loans will be made in February 2020. However, until the extension comes into force, it is unlikely that ebook loans will generate PLR due to the current rules of having to be an “on-site” loan in order to qualify.
We will keep you informed of any updates regarding this.
Can I register Kindle or Amazon audible editions?
Amazon operates a closed digital rights management system and has not licensed its books to be available via public libraries in the UK. Kindle and Amazon audible download editions are further complicated as they are published using ASINs. Under PLR legislation, loans are collected using ISBNs.
If remote ebook loans are outside of PLR legislation, does anyone else cover it?
Remote ebook loans to home PCs and mobile devices are not covered by PLR, as they are subject to licensing arrangements under UK and European Copyright Law.
PLR does not deal with the lending of books which fall outside of PLR legislation, therefore we would advise you to check your contract with your publisher to see what, if any, provision for payment has been made for the lending of your ebooks by public libraries under copyright licensing arrangements.
What share can I register in an audio-book?
Writers may register a fixed 60% share in an audio-book, providing that it has not been abridged or translated. In cases where the writer has made an additional contribution (eg as narrator) he/she may claim both shares (see narrator's share below). Where there is an abridger and/or a translator involved, a share of the writer’s PLR goes to each of them and reduces what is available to the writer (see below).
Narrators may register a fixed 20% PLR share in an audio-book.
Producers may register a fixed 20% share in an audio-book.
Abridgers (in cases where the writer’s original text has been abridged prior to recording as an audio-book) qualify for 12% (20% of the writer’s share).
Translators (in cases where the writer’s original text has been translated from another language) qualify for 18% (30% of the writer’s share).
If there is more than one writer, narrator etc, the appropriate shares should be divided equally.
If more than one contribution has been made, eg writer and narrator, more than one fixed share may be applied for.
Please refer to the examples on our registration forms page for further details regarding how contributors and shares should be listed.
Why do narrators and producers qualify for PLR in audio-books?
Prior to the changes in PLR legislation to extend the scheme to include non-print material, audio-book lending was covered under copyright law. Authors, narrators and producers qualified as rightsholders under copyright law, therefore should be treated as eligible contributors under PLR legislation.
Why do you have fixed shares for audio-books?
Authors, narrators, producers, abridgers and translators are all entitled to a share in audio-books, and it was felt that it might be difficult for all contributors to agree and calculate shares. The author receives the largest share, as the role played by the other contributors is more to do with helping to make the author's work available, and the Government continue to see PLR as essentially the author’s right.
What kind of material qualifies for PLR payments?For PLR purposes, an audio-book is defined as a ‘recording of a text being read’, an ‘authored text’ and ‘a work recorded as a sound recording and consisting mainly of spoken words’. In extending the Scheme, the Government’s intention was to mirror the arrangements for printed books and extend them to audio and ebooks. We can therefore only accept applications to register audio-books which meet these requirements and are the equivalent of a printed book.
In order to be eligible for registration, audio material must:
be a reading of an existing printed book, or
name a narrator/reader, or another contributor who performs the same role of guiding the listener through the performance
The following are examples of formats which qualify for PLR payments:
MP3 Playaways (pre-loaded MP3 players which contain a single audio-book title – customer supplies headphones and battery)
MP3CD – (unabridged audio-books which can be played on home computers)
CD Roms which are the equivalent of a printed book produced in CD Rom format (eg a narrated version of a book or a pdf version of an ebook produced in CD Rom format)
The following materials qualify for registration (if they are issued with ISBNs), however will not receive a payment (as they are subject to the same copyright law restrictions as ebooks):
The following audio materials do not qualify for registration:
Amazon audible downloads (digital downloads issued with ASINs)
Dramatisations of TV or radio shows or audio material based on TV and radio shows which just contain actors performing their role with no narration in between
Recordings of conversations, speeches, interviews and comedy sketches
Interactive/Multimedia CD Roms which require additional software or interactive content in order to use the material. Under the terms of the scheme, this type of material is not deemed to be the equivalent of a printed book (eg software providing interactive access to teaching materials)
How do I know if I am eligible to register an audio-book?
If you are a writer, narrator, producer, abridger or translator who has contributed to an audio-book, to qualify for PLR you should check that the material qualifies for registration first (refer to What kind of material qualifies for PLR payments? above). Once you have established that the material qualifies, you may register a share if you are named on the case in which the audio-book is held; OR you are able to refer to a contract with your publisher; OR you are named within the audio-book recording.
Where can I find ISBN details?PLR loans are collected using the ISBN. We can only register ISBNs which you apply for; therefore it is essential that you provide ISBNs for each edition. If you don’t provide ISBNs your application will be returned to you.
The following may be helpful for finding ISBNs:
- Royalty statements
- The book publisher
- Google Books website
- Amazon website (but please do not apply for Kindle editions or Amazon audible downloads as they are issued with ASINs which are not eligible for PLR)
What role does the audio-book producer play and how do they qualify?The definition in copyright law is ‘the person who organised the performance’. The producer should not be confused with the publishing company who employed the producer to commission the abridging, reading etc, and will have directed the performance. Producers will need to prove their PLR eligibility in the same way as other contributors ie should be named on the case in which the audio-book is held; OR be able to refer to a contract with the publisher; OR be named within the audio-book recording.
I’ve contributed to an audio & book ‘pack’. What share can I apply for?For the UK PLR scheme, the material is separated into 50% for the book element and 50% for the audio element. The appropriate shares should be applied for each element, eg agreed shares for the book and fixed shares for the audio material. Please refer to the example below where shares were agreed as 50/50 for the book element:
Author – 25% book and 30% for CD (fixed share 60% of 50%) = Total share of 55%
Illustrator – 25% of book and 0% for CD
Narrator – 0% for book and 10% for CD (fixed share 20% of 50%)
Producer – 0% for book and 10% for CD (fixed share 20% of 50%)
For the Irish PLR scheme, contributors may only register a share for the book element = 50% as audio material does not qualify. Please refer to the example below where shares were agreed as 50/50 for the book element:
Author = 25%
Illustrator = 25%
Narrator = 0%
Can I still synchronise my details if I register non-print materials?
If you have non-print materials registered they will not be synchronised and will only be registered for UK PLR. All printed material will continue to be automatically registered for both schemes.
Can I register non-print material online?
Yes. The online service has been updated to allow submission of non-print books. Guidance is available on the ‘add new book’ menu option under ‘how do I calculate my % share?’
What does the declaration section on the application forms mean regarding licence fees?
To register printed books, you do not have to own the copyright. Prior to the changes to extend the PLR scheme to include non-print material, audio and ebook lending was covered under copyright law. If you’ve signed over the licensing rights in your audio/ebook to your publisher, you may still register for PLR unless the publisher is already charging the library a licence fee to lend out your audio/ebook. PLR is not aware of such licence fees, but we are required to ask you to confirm that, to the best of your knowledge, a licence fee is not payable.