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 17,000 authors registered in the program and the average payment to a registered individual was $568.
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.
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.
As of February 15, 2016, we accept registration of ebooks in the PLR Program. Click here for information on ebook registration.
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.
• 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.
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.
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 or a new edition or format, you will need to do so during the registration period by completing a File Update form (provided to authors in February each year).
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 21,000 authors registered with the PLR program, with over 98,000 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.
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.
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.
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.