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PLR Scheme Overview

ELR Scheme Overview


History of PLR

a) Background

Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) are Australian Government cultural programs that make payments to eligible Australian creators and publishers in recognition that income is lost through the free multiple use of their books in public and educational lending libraries. PLR and ELR also support the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing.

The Public Lending Right Act 1985 provides the legislative framework for the PLR Scheme 1997. For the purposes of the Act, a Public Lending Right Committee is appointed by the Minister to administer the PLR scheme. The Act provides for the gazettal of a PLR scheme by the Minister.

b) Policy and Legislation

The first objective of the Public Lending Right Act 1985 is primarily economic in nature: “to make payments to Australian creators of books, and to publishers of books in Australia, in recognition of their loss of income from their books being available for loan from, or for use in, public lending libraries in Australia.”

The second objective, however, situates this legislation in a border cultural context, “to support the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging Australian persons to create books by encouraging publishers to publish books in Australia.”

Both the PLR and ELR schemes reflect the extent to which Australian books add to, interpret and evaluate Australian culture. By supporting the material wellbeing of creators and publishers, the Australian Government aims to ensure that this valuable contribution continues.


How do PLR and ELR Work?

After registering with Lending Rights, claimants submit title claims as a creator or publisher for the books they have published. These books are surveyed in a sample of either public lending libraries (PLR) or school, TAFE and university libraries (ELR). Payments are determined by the number of copies of eligible books estimated to be held in public lending libraries or educational lending libraries. If 50 or more copies of an eligible book are estimated to be held in the libraries surveyed for either scheme, then a payment may be made under that scheme for that book.

Books are surveyed annually for two consecutive financial years following their year of publication. If, in the second year, a book is still held in sufficient numbers in public or educational lending libraries, it will be resurveyed at least every three years. Books with fewer than 50 copies in the second or subsequent survey are dropped from the survey cycle. However if a new title claim is received for a second edition of a book previously claimed and now out of survey, then the book is surveyed again.


Which creators are eligible for PLR and ELR?

Eligible creators include:

Creators must be entitled to receive royalties from the sale of their book. Creators who receive an upfront payment must also have an entitlement to an ongoing royalty payment to be eligible for PLR and ELR.

Books written by Australian creators may be eligible even if those books have not been published in Australia.

PLR and ELR only make payments to living creators. As an exception, a payment may be made in the year a creator dies. However no further payments will be made after the program year in which the creator died.


Which publishers are eligible for PLR and ELR?

Payments are only made to eligible publishers if an eligible creator is receiving a payment.


Which books are eligible for PLR and ELR?

An eligible book is a book with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) that has been offered for sale and has no more that five eligible creators. The book must also have a catalogue record in a national bibliographic database.

Claims cannot be made for the following items:



Under the PLR and ELR schemes payments may be made to eligible creators and publishers. Creators and publishers register for PLR and ELR at the time of their first title claim. Separate rates of payment are determined each year for creators and publishers. Payments for both schemes are determined by the estimated number of copies of each eligible book which is held in the Australian public or educational lending libraries.

If there is more than one eligible creator of a book, each receives a PLR or ELR payment in proportion to their share of the royalty payments.

Since 2011amounts of less than $100 are not payable.

PLR and ELR payments are not subject to GST. However, claimants must declare their PLR and ELR payments for income tax purposes.


Changes to the Scheme in April 2011

In April 2011, the Minister for the Arts, on the recommendation of the PLR Committee, approved a number of changes to both schemes. These changes were intended to align the two schemes more closely and improve administrative arrangements. Specifically these changes were:


PLR Payments (PLR and ELR)

The PLR rates of payment for 2012-13 were $1.96 per copy of each eligible book for creators and 49 cents per copy of each eligible book for publishers. The ELR rates of payment were ‘tiered’ based on the total number of copies of all a claimant’s books. Payments varied from $1.4792 for the creator and 36.98 cents for the publisher for the first 50 copies, to 9 cents for the creator and 2.25 cents for the publisher in the case of more than 50,000 copies.   

For the 2012-13 program, over 12,400 book creators received payments of $18.1 million and over 440 publishers received PLR payments of $2.7 million. There were almost 18,000 PLR and ELR payments, totalling approx. $20.9 million to almost 13,000 claimants.

For each book claimed with ELR, a claimant’s percentage entitlement of royalties is multiplied by the estimated number of book copies obtained by the educational lending library survey to determine an equivalent number of book copies for that title. These are added together to calculate each claimant’s total equivalent number of book copies and this is multiplied by the current year’s rates of payment to calculate the payment owing for that year.


Administration of PLR (and ELR)

a) Structure

As prescribed by the Public Lending Right Act 1985, the Australian Government Minister for the Arts appoints a PLR Committee, the functions of which are to determine eligibility, approve payments and advise the Minister on matters relating to the scheme. This committee consists of a Chairperson, two representatives of Australian creators, a representative of publishers of books by Australian creators, a representative of libraries, an officer of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and an officer of the National Library of Australia.

The PLR Committee considers both policy and administrative issues such as payment rates. It also maintains an interest in the impacts of technological change on books and publishing.

Although not directly responsible for the administration of ELR, the Committee has been invited by the Minister to advise him in this respect.

b) Process

The day-to-day operation of both PLR and ELR is managed by staff in the Ministry for the Arts.


(UPDATED may 2014)

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