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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 043-104-E
Division Number: VII
Professional Group:Public Libraries joint with CLM SI
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 104
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No  

Public lending right in Central and Eastern Europe

Kalju Tammaru
Collection Management, Estonian Deposit Library
Tallinn, Estonia
Tuula Haavisto
Helsinki, Finland


Central and Eastern European (C&EE) countries have to decide in these years, what kind of a Public Lending Right system, if any, they will adopt. The countries which have applied for the membership in the European Union, have to harmonise their legislation with the EU directives. According to the Rental and Lending directive from the year 1992, the EU (and applicant) member countries have to decide on their remuneration system concerning the availability of books, music and other material in libraries. In connection with the CECUP project*, the PLR situation in ten EU applicant membership countries was studied at the end of 1999. The concerned countries were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The lines chosen by different countries differ a lot from each others. Some seem to have passed by this issue without any considerations, some have decided by purpose not to launch a PLR system, and some will soon begin new PLR practices.

* The CECUP project, Central and Eastern European Copyright User Platform (see http:www.eblida.org/cecup/), was financed by the European Commission and run by EBLIDA in 1998-99.


First of all it can be stated, that eight out of the ten countries concerned have in their copyright law a clear clause, which allows the publicly financed libraries to lend books without permission. One country, Slovakia, has the exceptional situation that according to the copyright law from 1997, also lending of books must be licensed.

In details, the 1992 directive on Rental and Lending Right says that a system must be established, to remunerate at least the authors for rental and lending of their works. According to 5.1 of the directive, in respect of the public lending the EU states are free to determine their remuneration system taking account of their cultural promotion objectives. The system must cover at least authors. Further, 5.3 allows the member states to exempt certain categories of establishments from the payment of remuneration.

This also means that all the CECUP countries have to decide, in which form the directive should be adopted into their own legislation. This matter came about spontaneously during the discussions throughout various CECUP workshops in the winter of 1999, which indicates that the process in the C&EE countries had begun. To get detailed information about the situation in adoption of the directive, a questionnaire was sent to the CECUP Steering Group members in Summer 1999.

It was interesting to ask, if the existing and planned PLR systems in these countries will cover:

  • material produced in the country concerned (domestic authors) or also foreign authors
  • only authors or also translators, illustrators, composers, singers, publishers or other groups of right owners
  • only public or also research and other libraries
  • who will pay for the remuneration, the libraries, the government or some third party
These are crucial questions in countries, where the library economy is tight, and there is pressure to use more money for aqcuisition, not for extra remuneration. If e.g. the foreign authors are covered, the system is much more expensive than with a national framework.

One of the questions concerned the coverage of IT lending systems in the countries. PLR systems based on amount of loans/title are possible mainly in cases where there are IT systems available. Manual counting would be extremely laborious.

The main results are collected in table 1.
Table 1. The Public Lending Right situation in the CECUP countries
  Is there a PLR system Under which Legislation Libraries covered Materials covered Right owners covered Who is paying Basis for remuneration To whom is it paid % of concerned libraries having an autom. system
Bulgaria No  -   -  -   -   -  -  -   -
Czech Republic Yes, but not for books Copyright law All publicly open libraries Music NOT FOR BOOKS! All music authors Libraries According to yearly agreements Collecting societies 58%
Estonia* Planned Copyright law              
Hungary Negotiated  -  - Music  -   -   -   -  -
Latvia Planned Under discussion Public libraries Books Latvian authors Government Number of books loaned by an author in libraries Under discussion 0,01%
Lithuania** Yes Copyright law Public libraries Books Not yet clear Probably government     0%
Poland No   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
Romania No   -   -   -   -  -   -   -   -
Slovakia Yes Copyright law; Law on the collective admin., maybe library law All libraries     Libraries; discussion with the government to pay are under way Number of books loaned by an author in libraries Collecting societies 10%
Slovenia Yes, but not for books Copyright law All publicly funded libraries Music NOT BOOKS!   Libraries Number of located items Collecting societies 70%
* the frames are given in the new copyright law but the practice will be created by the Ministry of Culture

** the frames are given in the new copyright law but the decrees are still in preparation

Three (Bulgaria, Poland, Romania) of the ten countries informed that they have no PLR system and no plans to establish one. Hungary has reported of negotiations with the collecting societies for remunerating music lending by libraries. In Slovenia the situation is clear, and no discussions are under way. The copyright law (36/2) states that lending of text material is free. There is remuneration only for the lending of audio and video materials, and the form of payment is based on agreements between the libraries and the concerned collecting societies, which are nowadays two: one for music and one for other audio?visual materials. In the Czech Republic the situation is the same, but it was discussed in detail during the preparation of the new copyright law which, at the time of this paper, was still under work. Libraries were consulted in this negotiation. The Czech decided, based on 5.3 of the Lending and Rental directive, to continue the system where only lending of music is remunerated. This has been running since 1994. The system will be extended to cover lending of other visual and audio?visual documents.

In Estonia and Latvia PLR has been a hot discussion matter between copyright parties. The organisations of rightowners (in Estonia the authors association, in Latvia the collecting society AKKA/LAA) have pressed for a remuneration system. At the beginning of the process libraries were not even consulted, but in both countries libraries have managed to get themselves involved.

In Latvia some of the details are still under political debate. It has not been decided if the orders will be included into the copyright legislation or will there be a separate law. According to the draft in the Summer of 1999, the remuneration will be paid by the government and to the Latvian authors only. No common ground has been reached on whether the money will be paid directly to the authors or through collecting societies. The grant per author will be counted according to the number of loaned books of an author. In Latvia libraries have been alerted by the question on who will pay to libraries for counting the loans, when less than one per cent of the concerned libraries have an automated library system. If the plans will be realised, the sum to be disbursed to authors will be 10% of the funds spent on book acquisitions in public libraries in the preceding year.

In Lithuania the new copyright law of May 1999, provides a framework for the PLR system, which will be adopted on the 1st of July 2000. Libraries of educational and scientific institutions are excluded from the system. However a decision was made, due to economic difficulties, to provide no funding for the system at least in the first two years. The preparation of a more detailed decree has been postponed because of other matters on the political agenda.

In Slovakia the situation has been halted since the introduction of the new copyright law, which came into force in late 1997. Libraries do not accept the principle that even for the lending of books permission must be sought from the right owners. According to the latter, libraries must pay the remuneration for lending material. The law has not yet been executed in libraries, although collecting societies have insisted for it. The solution has been sought via the Library law that is still under preparation. The idea would be to move the burden of organising the authorisation system and payments of remuneration to the government.

Public Lending Right in Estonia

Estonian librarians have been aware about remuneration systems for the authors for rental and lending of their works. Most of the information has been gathered from the Nordic countries, where different systems have been used for a long time and with whom Estonian libraries have a lot of contacts. Also the EU directive from 1992 was known among the library administrators. The possible future of PLR in Estonia was already mentioned in some library meetings in recent years.

At the end of 1998, some MPs together with the Estonian Association of Writers created a draft PLR law and sent it to the Parliament. The library community did not see the material until in the stage of discussion in the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament). To discuss the matter, a meeting with the initiation makers of the draft and representatives of writers was organised by librarians.

Librarians from different types of libraries were at present, as well as representatives of the Estonian Librarians Association and the Ministry of Culture. All participants agreed about the principal idea of remuneration. The real discussion theme was the mechanism and concrete solutions. The draft was made mostly according to the Finnish PLR system, without accounting the real situation in and possibilities of Estonian libraries. The general discussion was about to whom to pay and from witch source. The mixed financing system of public libraries, different systems for other libraries etc. need a careful analyse of real possibilities. At the same time the real situation with possible statistical data has to be considered. As most of public libraries have no IT lending systems, the real figures of loans can not be counted. The biggest concern of libraries is to find guaranties, that money for remuneration will be given by the state additionally, and not excluded from the very unsatisfying library budgets.

The meeting was fruitful as a starting point of further discussion. The debates about the matter were also continued in the press from both sides. It was agreed to continue to work on matter together with writers.

In 1999 a second attempt was made to send a draft PLR law to the Parliament without a consensus with libraries. The Cultural Affairs Committee did not accept the draft.

In 1999 major changes were made in the Copyright Law in Estonia. Some of them were caused by the changes in the real life, some had a connection to harmonisation with the EU directives. As Estonia has promised to harmonise the copyright matters before January 1, 2000, also the question of PLR rose again. The Cultural Affairs Committee asked for additional material about the PLR situation in different countries. Its' representative took part in a library meeting, where the matter was also discussed, etc. The draft of the new law was also sent to the National Library of Estonia for remarks.

As the final decision, an article was added to the Copyright Law: authors have right to get remuneration for rental and lending of their works. The list of libraries included into the system, amount of sums to be paid, and the system of payment has to be fixed by the Government. This part of the Copyright Law will come in force from January 1, 2002.

The Ministry of Culture has begun to prepare a proposal for the Government. It will form a working group, in which the library community will be largely involved to create optimal and mutually acceptable PLR system for Estonia.


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