"Renewed debate is likely on U.S. public lending right," from American Libraries, December 1983
American Libraries, Dec 1983 v14 p694(1)
Renewed debate is likely on U.S. public lending right.
Sen. Charles Mathias (R-Md.) intends to introduce a bill leading to a new look at the public lending right for the United States, it was announced at a recent Center for the Book forum at the Library of Congress.
The public lending right (PLR) is a general name for schemes providing payments to authors based on library use of their works. Part of the law in 10 countries, PLR is debated from time to time in the U.S., but has never gone beyond committee consideration in Congress.
The Sept. 29 forum of librarians, authors, copyright officials, and academicians revived discussion of the complicated issues underlying an American version of PLR.
Among the participants was Robert Wedgeworth, ALA Executive Director, who pointed to the detailed background on PLR in the Spring 1981 issue of Libray Trends.
"In order to advance the concept of PLR," Wedgeworth said, "it has been very common for authors to characterize the library and its lending services as inimical to their interest. This understandable and high emotional argument has taken place over and over in discussions about the PLR and in the absence of any significant data on the role and influence of the library market on the sale of books."
Wedgeworth outlined several ways libraries are supportive of authors, and he predicted library cooperation on "almost any measure intended to bring benefits to the conditions of authorship in the United states; but it is also a reasonable assumption that librarians will fight vigorously to defend the principles, benefits, and operations of public libraries."
Since the PLR concept arose in England some 34 years ago, librarians have opposed schemes that would compromise funding for basic library services or encumber free selection and circulation of materials.
At the close of the forum, an aide to Mathias announced that the senator intends to introduce a bill to establish a commission to report to Congress on the merits and demerits of the issue, as well as on the practical feasibility of adopting such a system in the U.S.
An article on the British PLR program, which will begin paying authors early in 1984, appeared in last February's American Libraries, p. 107.