Consultation on the proposal to extend remote e-lending from public libraries to Northern Ireland.

Consultation on the proposal to extend remote e-lending from public libraries to Northern Ireland.

1. Summary

The Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for eligible authors, illustrators, narrators and other book contributors to receive payment for the loans of their book by public libraries in the UK.

Section 31 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 contains provisions for the extension of the PLR to include the remote lending of e-books and e-audiobooks (by online download from a public library service’s system directly to a library user’s device for the loan period, without the need to visit library premises). Section 31 came into force in England, Scotland and Wales in 2018, and at the same time, a consequential variation was made to the PLR Scheme to allow for remote lending. Section 31 was not brought into force in Northern Ireland at that time as there was no sitting Northern Ireland Executive, but there was a commitment to bring section 31 into force in relation to Northern Ireland at a subsequent opportunity when the Northern Ireland Executive was restored.

The UK government now intends to bring section 31 into force in Northern Ireland, subject to final confirmation from the Northern Ireland Executive following this consultation.

This consultation therefore seeks views on a proposed amendment to the PLR Scheme to give effect to the extension of the PLR to include e-books and e-audiobooks lent remotely by public libraries in Northern Ireland, in line with section 31 of the Digital Economy Act.

The proposed change will enable the PLR Office at the British Library to continue to administer the PLR Scheme fairly and effectively.

2. How to respond

The consultation will run for 3 weeks from 8 April and will close at 5.00pm on 28 April.

This consultation is intended to be an entirely written exercise. Please contact if you require any other format, e.g. braille or large font. If you cannot reply via email please respond by post: Libraries Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 100 Parliament Street London SW1A 2BQ

Please confirm that you are content to provide your name and contact details and if so, please include the information with your response. Please also indicate whether you are responding as an individual or on behalf of an organisation and stating, if possible, how many people your organisation represents and how you collected their views for this exercise.

We will publish the government’s response to this consultation on the GOV.UK website, summarising the responses received and setting out the actions we have taken in respect of them, when we lay any resultant statutory instrument.

3. Background to the Public Lending Right

The Public Lending Right Act 1979 (“the PLR Act 1979”) provides a right, known as the “Public Lending Right” (PLR), for authors and other eligible rights holders to receive payments from a central fund for the loan of their books to the public by local library authorities in the United Kingdom. The titles and materials eligible for registration for PLR, and the rates of payments to be made in respect of it, are determined in accordance with secondary legislation, the PLR Scheme.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (“the 1988 Act”) provides that any eligible works lent under the PLR Scheme are lent without infringing copyright under the 1988 Act. The PLR Scheme enables financial compensation for eligible and registered authors by making payments to them on the basis of how often their books are borrowed from public libraries.

The PLR Scheme has been managed by the British Library Board since 1 October 2013, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. PLR payments are made annually by the British Library to eligible authors who register their books with the British Library’s PLR Office. Authors resident in an European Economic Area state, including the UK, are eligible to apply for registration of their works. A register of eligible authors and books is maintained by the PLR office.

The amounts paid to authors are calculated on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public library authorities in the UK in the preceding Scheme year (1 July to 30 June) which is ‘grossed’ up through calculations by the PLR Office to provide a national estimate for the loans of each book in that year.

In recent years, over 20,000 writers, and other rights holders (such as illustrators, photographers, narrators, producers, abridgers, translators and editors) who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments and over £6 million has been distributed. A maximum payment threshold per contributor of £6,600 applies and the minimum payment is £1.

For the PLR year from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, over 2,200 authors and other contributors registered for PLR for the first time and the PLR Office collected data on over 27.8 million loans from the 28 library authorities that took part in the sample.

4. Proposed amendment to the PLR Scheme

Extending the PLR to include remote e-lending from public libraries in Northern Ireland

The PLR Scheme originally applied to the lending of physical books from public libraries in the UK. The Digital Economy Act 2010 extended the PLR to include the lending of audiobooks and the lending of e-books where they were downloaded on library premises. These provisions came into force in July 2014 and payments were made to rights holders from February 2016.

However, the lending of e-books and digital audiobooks (e-audiobooks) by public libraries in the UK is generally carried out ‘remotely’ by online download from a public library service’s system directly to a library user’s device for the loan period, without the need to visit library premises. This meant that, despite the provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010, the remote lending of e-books and e-audiobooks was not covered by the PLR Scheme at that time.

To address this, section 31 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 made an amendment to extend the PLR to include the remote lending of e-books and e-audiobooks. Section 31 was brought into force in England, Scotland and Wales in 2018, and, following consultation, a consequential variation was made to the PLR Scheme in 2018 to cover remote e-lending in England, Scotland and Wales.

We are now seeking to extend the provisions to Northern Ireland and therefore ensure there is a consistency of approach across the whole of the UK.

The number of e-books lent by public libraries is currently significantly less than the lending of physical books. Annual public library statistics collected by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) indicate that in 2019/20 public libraries in Great Britain issued around 9 million e-book and e-audiobook loans, compared with 165.89 million physical book issues. However, e-lending continues to increase and the government acknowledges the importance of considering matters relating to remote e-lending and the PLR.

The PLR Scheme calculation year runs from 1 July to 30 June each year, and the aim of the government is to commence the provisions on 1 July 2021 in time for the new Scheme year.

5. Annex A

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Privacy Notice

Who is collecting my data?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad.

We protect and promote our cultural and artistic heritage and help businesses and communities to grow by investing in innovation and highlighting Britain as a fantastic place to visit. We help to give the UK a unique advantage on the global stage, striving for economic success.

Purpose of this Privacy Notice

This notice is provided within the context of the changes required by the Article 13 & 14 of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). This notice sets out how we will use your personal data as part of our legal obligations with regard to Data Protection.

DCMS’s personal information charter explains how we deal with your information. It also explains how you can ask to view, change or remove your information from our records.

What is personal data?

Personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural living person, otherwise known as a ‘data subject’. A data subject is someone who can be recognised, directly or indirectly, by information such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier, or data relating to their physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural, or social identity. These types of identifying information are known as ‘personal data’. Data protection law applies to the processing of personal data, including its collection, use and storage.

What personal data do we collect?

Most of the personal information we collect and process is provided to us directly by you. This includes:

Name and email address

Why are we collecting your data?

Your personal data is being collected as an essential part of the consultation process, so that we can contact you regarding your response and for statistical purposes such as to ensure individuals and organisations cannot respond more than once.

To process this personal data, our legal reason for collecting or processing this data is: Article 6(1) e. it is necessary to perform a public task (to carry out a public function or exercise powers set out in law, or to perform a specific task in the public interest that is set out in law).

The lawful basis that we rely on to process your personal data will determine which of the following rights are available to you. Much of the processing we do in DCMS will be necessary to meet our legal obligations or to perform a public task. If we hold personal data about you in different parts of DCMS for different purposes, then the legal basis we rely on in each case may not be the same.

What will happen if I do not provide this data?

You are not required to provide personal data.

Who will your data be shared with?

No personal data will be shared outside of DCMS.

How long will my data be held for?

We will only retain your personal data for 2 years in line with the purposes set out in this document.

Will my data be used for automated decision making or profiling?

We will not use your data for any automated decision making or profiling.

What are your data protection rights?

You have rights over your personal data under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the supervisory authority for data protection legislation, and maintains a full explanation of these rights on their website

DCMS will ensure that we uphold your rights when processing your personal data.

How do I complain?

Libraries Team
100 Parliament Street

The contact details for the data controller’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) are:

Data Protection Officer
100 Parliament Street

If you’re unhappy with the way we have handled your personal data and want to make a complaint, please write to the department’s DPO or the Data Protection Manager at the relevant agency. You can contact the department’s DPO using the details above.

How to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office

If you believe that your personal data has been misused or mishandled, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is an independent regulator. You may also contact them to seek independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing.

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Telephone: 0303 123 1113

Any complaint to the Information Commissioner is without prejudice to your right to seek redress through the courts.

Changes to our privacy notice

We may make changes to this privacy policy. In that case, the ‘last updated’ date at the bottom of this page will also change. Any changes to this privacy policy will apply to you and your data immediately.

If these changes affect how your personal data is processed, DCMS will take reasonable steps to let you know.

This notice was last updated on 01/04/2021

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