The manner in which books are created, distributed, purchased and borrowed has changed significantly since the introduction of the PLR scheme in 1974 and the ELR scheme in 2000. In light of this change, the Australian Government has started work on modernising the PLR and ELR schemes to ensure their continued relevance and effectiveness in the 21st century.
The Government first indicated its intention to examine how the PLR and ELR schemes could be modernised, including with regard to the treatment of ebooks, in its response to the final report of the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG). The BISG final report recommended that, following work by Australian publishers to clarify the business model for the use of ebooks in libraries, the Government should establish a framework and guidelines for how ebooks may become a part of the PLR and ELR schemes.
The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport (the Department) is now working on a comprehensive assessment of the schemes, which will form the first part of the modernisation process. This will be the first overarching assessment of PLR and ELR as complementary and overlapping schemes since the introduction of ELR in 2000.
Online survey now closed
Our survey on the PLR and ELR schemes has now closed – thank you to the many book creators, publishers, librarians, literary agents and others who responded.
Terms of reference
The assessment will consider and report on findings in relation to the following:
- Whether the objectives of the PLR and ELR schemes remain relevant today, and whether the existing schemes fulfil these objectives,
- The schemes’ scope and eligibility criteria (including the possible introduction of e-books),
- The methodology for determining payments and the quantum of payments, and
- The schemes’ governance framework and administrative arrangements.
The assessment will assume the continuation of ongoing Australian Government funding for the schemes at existing levels.
Consultation and timing
In the second half of 2012 the Department consulted with the Public Lending Right Committee and other key stakeholders, including peak organisations representing authors, publishers and libraries, to inform its assessment of the schemes.
Over 1200 interested members of the public, including existing and potential creator and publisher claimants, also provided their views through an online survey.
The Department is finalising its assessment and will report to the Minister shortly.
The modernisation process is happening in parallel with the work being undertaken by the Book Industry Collaboration Council, established by the Government in June 2012, to address issues facing the book industry, including with regard to the use of ebooks in libraries.
Potential changes to the schemes
The Government will consult further with interested stakeholders and notify claimants in advance before making any significant changes to the schemes through the modernisation process. Any changes to the schemes will likely commence in 2013.
To avoid disruption to the operation of the schemes, we will continue to accept creator and publisher registrations and title claims as usual while the modernisation process is underway. The modernisation process may result in changes to aspects of the schemes (potentially including their scope, eligibility criteria, methodology for determining payments, quantum of payments, and/or governance and administrative arrangements) between the time a new title claim is received and the first program year in which that title claim may be eligible for a payment.
Unlike many other Australian Government programs supporting the arts, PLR and ELR do not require claimants to apply separately for each funding round. Instead, creator and publisher registrations and title claims are automatically carried forward into each successive program year, meaning that a single title claim may continue to generate payments for many years, or even decades. While this arrangement saves time and paperwork for both claimants and for the Lending Rights team, it means that the schemes will not necssarily continue to operate in exactly the same way they did when a creator or publisher first registered or submitted a title claim.
For existing PLR and/or ELR claimants the modernisation process may result in changes to scheme parameters that were in place when you claimed for books in previous program years. These may include changes to the schemes’ scope, eligibility criteria, methodology for determining payments, quantum of payments, and/or governance and administrative arrangements.
Other than the previously announced increase to the minimum payment levels for both PLR and ELR from $50 to $100 (see 2011 scheme changes for more details), any changes to the scheme will not affect eligibility or payments for the 2012-13 PLR and ELR program years.
Please contact the Department at ArtsReview@pmc.gov.au if you have any questions about the modernisation process.