Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS

Why does Canada have a PLR program?
Each year millions of Canadians access books from their public libraries, free of charge. This free use we enjoy means that authors potentially lose revenues from sales of their books; readers who might otherwise buy a book can instead consult or borrow it from the library.


The Canada Council’s Public Lending Right program helps to address this inequity. Each year it distributes payments to authors to compensate them for the presence of their books in public libraries. The program has grown steadily since it was established in 1986 and last year over $9.7 million was distributed among over 16,000 authors registered in the program and the average payment to a registered individual was $577.

Is PLR unique to Canada?

There are public lending right programs operating in 29 countries worldwide. However, the Canadian model is special in that it is not linked to copyright legislation and is mandated to compensate Canadian authors exclusively, across a specific range of eligible literary and scholarly genres. It is also unique in that it is governed by a board, the Public Lending Right Commission, comprised of experts from the writing, publishing, and library communities in both official languages of Canada that set specific criteria relating to title eligibility, rates of compensation, and the annual library survey’s methodology.


Who can register for PLR?

Writers, translators, illustrators and photographers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada can register their works as explained in our program guidelines. For more specific criteria, consult the eligibility criteria.

The registration period runs from mid-February to May 1 each year.

Does PLR provide payment for ebooks?

Starting February 15, 2016, we will accept registration of ebooks in the PLR Program. Click here for information on ebook registration.

How are the libraries selected?

Every year, the PLR Commission decides which library catalogues are to be used for its sample. The selection process takes into account the desire to include substantial collections and to represent the various regions of Canada. We survey seven public library catalogues in each language group.

How are payments determined?
Payments are determined based on how often a title shows up in an annual survey of select public library system catalogues across Canada. Other factors include:


• the year a title is registered with the program
• the percentage of a title’s content claimed by the program registrant (i.e. co-author or sole author)


Number of Years Title
Registered with PLR
*Payment if Title Found
Category I: 0-5 years Maximum Hit Rate
Category II: 6-10 years 80% of Hit Rate
Category III: 11-15 years 70% of Hit Rate
Category IV: 16+ years 50% of Hit Rate

 

*N.B. This scale applies to authors claiming 100% of a PLR payment.


NOTE: There is a $50 threshold set for a PLR payment. This means that only those registrants, whose library survey results amount to at least $50, qualify to receive a PLR payment.

When will I learn if I will be receiving a PLR payment?
A Title Earning Summary is mailed to you each February. This report indicates whether your registered titles were found in the selected libraries and the amount of your PLR payment.

I just found out about the PLR program, but have been publishing books for several years. Can I receive PLR payments for the years I've missed?
No. We are unable to make retroactive payments.

 

 THE REGISTRATION

Can I register online?
No. We do not currently offer online registration services.

What support material is required?
A photocopy of the title page and copyright page where your name and the title of the book appear is required. The table of contents, if available, must also accompany your signed registration form.

Must I provide the ISBN for each book?
Yes, the ISBN is an eligibility requirement and can usually be found on the copyright page of the book. You may also find it on the back cover of the book.

What is meant by "percentage share" on the Registration form?
Percentage share refers to the portion of a book that is attributed to a contributor, where there is more than one contributor to the book.  It is not tied to the royalty rate or the division of royalties agreed to by various contributors to a book. For example, if a 100-page book consists of 70 pages of a writer’s work and 30 pages of an illustrator’s work, the illustrator would claim 30% and the writer would claim 70%. Please refer to the program eligibility criteria for detailed information.

Once registered with the PLR program, do I have to re-register every year?
No. Your file will be automatically carried over from year to year. However, should you wish to add a new title, you will need to do so during the registration period by completing a File Update form (provided to authors in February each year).

I have a new book but missed the registration period. What can I do?
You must wait for the following year's registration period (15 February - 1 May).

A new edition of a title that I registered a number of years ago was just released. Will this have an impact on the payment category in which my title falls?
The date of publication, edition or reprint of a book is not a consideration in the PLR payment scale. The payment category in which a titles falls is determined by its original registration date with the PLR program.

How many people are registered with PLR?
There are now more than 20,000 authors registered with the PLR program, with over 90,000 eligible titles on file. Many titles have more than one eligible registrant attached: translators, photographers, and illustrators are also eligible to claim PLR revenues alongside authors.


PLR PAYMENTS

Is the Public Lending Right legislated?
In Canada, the PLR program is not embedded in any specific legislation, including copyright legislation. It was established in 1986 by the federal cabinet, as a program of the Canada Council for the Arts, with an advisory body, the Public Lending Right Commission.

How are payments made?
There is one annual payment, issued by cheque in mid-February. We will eventually offer payment via direct deposit of funds but cannot currently provide this as an option.

What is the Income Tax status of a PLR payment? When do I receive a T4A slip?
All PLR payments must be reported as income whether you received a T4A tax slip or not. Generally, PLR earnings are included under line 130 "Other Income" of your Federal Income Tax return.

If your payment is $500 or more you will receive a T4A slip the February following your payment. If your payment is under $500, we will not issue a T4A slip.

Can a PLR cheque be made out to the name of my company?
No. PLR payments are issued in the individual author's name only.

Does GST/HST apply to PLR payments?
No. PLR payments are GST/HST exempt.

Do PLR payments continue after an author's death?
No. Payments are limited to living authors. An author’s estate is eligible for one final PLR payment after the date of death. Executors should send a copy of the death certificate to the PLR Program office and confirm the contact name and address of the estate, so that the cheque can be properly forwarded.

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