As the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held the 41th session of its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) online, EWC President Nina George submitted on behalf of the European Writers’ Council the following statement on the proposal for a WIPO-Study on Public Lending Right.
Brussels, 24 June 2021
The EWC thanks for the opportunity to submit a written comment on the topic of Public Lending Right (PLR), related to the proposal prepared by the Republics of Sierra Leone, Panama, and Malawi. The core aim of the proposal is: “… a WIPO-sponsored study to provide a more detailed information on the different ways in which PLR can be introduced, on limitations and solutions, and how we can access the support and capacity building that we will need to take a PLR scheme forward.”
The European Writers’ Council represents the interests of 160,000 authors in the book and text sector from 46 writers’ and translators’ organisations in the EU-, EEA- and non-EU countries including Belarus, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey, who write and publish in 31 languages and in all genres. The commitment to PLR in the sense of a sustainable future policy for writers and translators, the original sources of knowledge and literature, is one of our core tasks.
The EWC is part of the PLR International Steering Committee, holds PLR seminars for its members, and has access to a large stock of experiences on PLR. With this in background, we note as follows:
Investing in PLR is investing in Human Rights, in Democracy, and in a sustainable Economy.
PLR implements the principle of ‘every use must be remunerated’ which is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by which writers and translators are entitled to receive remuneration from every use of their work. The EU has had a Lending Right Directive since 1992. Nearly all Member States have successfully implemented a PLR scheme, although in some countries, like Portugal, Romania or Bulgaria, it has either not be implemented or in disadvantage for authors.
PLR payments intend to “recompense for the harm suffered by the author”, and should be appropriate, not only symbolic. PLR is funded directly by the government. For the budgeting it requires the political will and the knowledge about the positive impact of a reasonably funded PLR-budget, from which libraries, readers, society and authors all benefit. The right to access culture, and the right to be remunerated for the usage of one’s cultural work must not be played off against each other in a democracy. Accordingly, PLR finds the necessary third way to both motivate the bright authors’ minds from every financial background to take up this profession – and to ensure access to knowledge and “to the doors to the world” that a book always opens.
We would like to encourage WIPO and its member states to approach the proposal positively. We would also like to make an important addition with regard to the proposal and its intention to “support (of) the linguistic and cultural diversity of translations”: Especially for authors from developing countries and translated into other languages, PLR payment from strong markets is essential. Consequently, bilateral contracts between CMOs or governmental entities should be included in the study, and how PLR-reimbursed translated books benefit the local writers. Similarly, this needs to be put in the context of national environments where there are no CMOs or authors’ organisations that can enter into negotiations, and how appropriate conditions can be created.
Photo: Emmanuel Berrod. Copyright: WIPO. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 IGO License