Authors want payment for ebook loans

Authors are complaining about unfair treatment by libraries over ebooks. Writers want the same rules to apply to ebooks as to printed editions of their work, and to receive a payment each time their books are borrowed.

At present the Public Lending Right pays authors around six pence each time one of their books is borrowed. This payment does not apply to ebook loans, which are becoming increasingly popular at many libraries.

Nicola Solomon of the Society of Authors highlighted the anomaly and said that authors should be properly paid for their writing, highlighting the importance of PLR fees for those authors who were not regulars in the best-seller charts.

"It's very important to understand that authors do rely on PLR," she told The Guardian. "It's not just a nice little bonus. Many authors get PLR who are not bestsellers but do very well in libraries. People borrow very different books from the books they buy. Authors can't continue to write if they are not paid for their work."

She pointed out that lending rights are covered by copyright legislation, and that it might be possible for writers to take legal action to pursue claims. "The failure to make the payments means that the government and libraries are actually infringing the author's copyright every time they make an ebook loan,” Solomon suggested. "Authors would be entitled to sue for the losses caused by that infringement. We would hope that the Government would recognise its legal and moral responsibility to make payments to authors particularly as ebook lending from libraries is becoming significant."

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