Last autumn the UK government commissioned an independent review of e-lending in public libraries in England. The panel took evidence from selected individuals and organisations representing a range of views, from publishers, librarians, booksellers, authors and so on, as well as an open call for evidence. The review has just been published (press release and actual review) and the actual text of the recommendations is below:
- The provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that extend PLR to audio books and loans of on-site e-books should be enacted.
- Further legislative changes should be made to allow PLR to take account of remote e-loans.
- The overall PLR pot should be increased to recognise the increase in rights holders.
- A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots.
- Public libraries should offer both on-site and remote e-lending service to their users, free at point of use.
- The interests of publishers and booksellers must be protected by building in frictions that set 21st-century versions of the limits to supply which are inherent in the physical loans market (and where possible, opportunities for purchase should be encouraged). These frictions include the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, that digital books could be securely removed after lending and that digital books would deteriorate after a number of loans. The exact nature of these frictions should evolve over time to accommodate changes in technology and the market.