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PLR were enshrined in Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 (see OJEC n°L346, 27 November 1992, pages 61-66) on rental right and lending right. In its first article, this recognises the right to allow or prevent the loan or originals or copies. This directive was intended to harmonise national legislation enacted in the field of PLR relating to works held in libraries, recognising that certain member States of the European Union had already introduced national arrangements including, many years previously, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, later joined by the United Kingdom, Austria and Germany, while others had not yet done so. In 2003 a PLR law was enacted in France. In 2008, 27 nations throughout the world had a system that remunerated the loan of books from libraries.
In Europe, to take account of national cultural and political objectives to promote reading, many countries introduced a range of systems for the public support of authors and translators, while others adopted a principle of remuneration paid in respect of an author’s rights (copyright). In the latter case, the remuneration of the author is determined by law and it is usually the State that provides the necessary funding, on behalf of readers, via a contribution voted annually by parliament. 
The legal licence regime, as in the French system, is an alternative allowed for under article 5 of Directive 92/100. Under this provision, the State may waive the exclusive right provided for public lending, provided at least the authors obtain remuneration in respect of this lending, with each nation retaining the ability to set this remuneration, taking due account of its cultural promotion targets. This text also enables the State to exempt certain categories of library from payment of the remuneration.

Late introduction of PLR in France

Until the adoption of the 1992 Directive, the French Government had for some time officially maintained that the law dated 11 March 1957 concerning literary and artistic property included adequate provisions that could be applied to PLR, a position that excused it from making any changes. Of course, PLR were not expressly covered in the then current legislation, but were included in the right to control destination, itself a corollary of the right to reproduction, in other words an author could, theoretically, on this basis, authorise or forbid the offering of his work for loan in a lending library.
The debate on PLR was re-launched on the initiative of the Society des Gens de letters (SGDL) in 1997. Madame Catherine Trautmann, then Minister for Culture, asked M. Jean-Marie Borzeix for a situation report on the matter; in June 1998, he submitted his Rapport sur la question du PLR dans les bibliothèques that was published in September 1998, giving rise to waves of protest amongst librarians, while being favourably received by rights holders represented by the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE) and the SGDL. This report favoured the system of exclusive rights by recommending the payment by the reader of a fixed sum of 10 to 20 Francs per year. It also stressed the need for solidarity between all those involved in the book publishing chain. The controversy set off by the librarians was supported a group of authors hostile to the payment of a fee by borrowers, both arguing in favour of free access to public reading.

Creation of SOFIA

In February 2000, the SGDL, the SNE and the Society Française des Intérêts des Authors de l’écrit (SOFIA - newly created on the initiative of the other two organisations with a view to managing in the near future both PLR and the book-related element of remuneration in respect of private digital reproduction), in a petition signed by 288 writers and aimed at libraries, stressed the right of an author to prevent the loan of his works in libraries until an equitable solution had been found.
It was in this difficult climate that the Books and Reading Directorate endeavoured to arrive at a compromise based on the formula of a “paid loan” that thus decoupled the payment from the act of borrowing. Another question soon became involved in this debate: that of discounts accorded by suppliers of books to libraries. This rebate often approached 20% of the retail pre-tax price, occasionally attaining higher values when negotiating certain public contracts to powerful wholesalers in the field. As book sellers lacked the economic capacity to accept such expensive proposals, they did not agree. However the retention of a large number of book shops, one of the aims of the 1981 law on fixed prices for books (called the “Lang law”), continued as a major government and local authority objective.

Introduction of the legal licence

A draft bill was thus tabled by the Ministry for Culture, incorporating these various parameters.  
Adopted unanimously by the Senate on 8 October 2002, the draft law concerning PLR was then sent for an initial reading at the National Assembly on 2 April 2003. The French law relating to the remuneration in respect of public lending from libraries and enhanced social protection for authors was thus finally adopted by Parliament on 18 June 2003. It included a second aim in a chapter introducing the first supplementary pension scheme for authors and translators, who previously had none, with contributions now benefiting from an additional equivalent amount deducted from lending right remuneration.
In fact, by adopting a legal licence, France was exercising the option available under Article 5 of Directive n°92/100 dated 19 November 1992 to waive the author’s exclusive rights. The author thus finds himself deprived of his right to approve or refuse the loan of copies of his work, offset however by a compensatory remuneration that he shares equally with his publisher. This new arrangement is enacted in the new chapter 3 of the first volume of the Intellectual Property Code at articles L. 133-1 et seq.
Article L.133-1 of the Intellectual Property Code states “when a work has been the subject of a publication contract with a view to its publication and distribution in book form, the author cannot prevent the loan of copies of this published work by a library that is open to the public. Such loans give rise to remuneration paid to the author”.
 Article L.133-3 provides for this remuneration to be made in two parts:
·   Book suppliers (bookshops), who are required to limit discounts to libraries to 9% maximum (instead of the unlimited discount regime prior to 2003) pay SOFIA in respect of PLR 6% of the pre-tax retail price for books purchased by lending libraries;
·  The Government pays a fixed sum of €1.50 per registered member of a public library and €1 per registered member of a university library (users of school libraries are not included in the calculation).  Government contribution is around 11 million euros per year.
The remuneration received in respect of lending from libraries is divided as provided for in article L.133-4:
1)  An initial portion is divided equally between authors and their publishers in proportion to the number of copies bought per year for those libraries certified by decree, determined on the basis of information communicated to the approved Society by the libraries and their suppliers.
2)  A second portion, that cannot exceed half the total, is assigned to the payment of a proportion of the contributions paid in respect of the supplementary pension.
Article 4 of law n° 2003-517 dated 18 June 2003 also develops the dispensations provided for under Article 3 of law n° 81-766 dated 10 August 1981 concerning book prices, by limiting to 9% the discount rate on retail pre-tax prices for books purchased by public authorities and lending libraries, which automatically implies for the suppliers to the latter a reduction of margin of 6% and 15%; it is thanks to this limiting of discounts that the bookseller profession has, in general, looked favourably on this law and accepted the task of levying the remuneration due under PLR.
On 7 March 2005 SOFIA was formally authorised by the Minister of Culture to manage the payment of remuneration in respect of PLR. It is thus to SOFIA that libraries and documentation centres subject to PLR and their book suppliers must address their returns. It is SOFIA that pays rights to authors and publishers.


The levy was implemented with effect from December 2005, following a wide-ranging publicity campaign aimed at the book sellers and libraries. Over the course of 2006 – 2007 the latter then made appropriate returns to SOFIA detailing their sales or purchases of books.  
In addition to the Government contributions, which were made strictly in accordance with its commitments, SOFIA also received payments from book sellers at the rate of 3% for the period from 1 August 2003 to 31 July 2004 (excluding current public contracts) and at 6% of the pre-tax retail price for each book sold by book shops to a lending library between 1 August 2004 and 31 December 2004 (all sales included). For rights concerning 2005 at the full rate, the collection of the levies had to be complete by the end of March 2008, with those relating to 2006 being spread throughout 2008 to avoid over-burdening the capacities of the suppliers’ accounts. 


The first distribution was related to remunerations due in respect of FY 2003-2004 and was paid in the summer of 2007. Payments for FY 2005 were determined in April 2008 and distributed during the spring.
For those sums collected in respect of 2003-2004 and 2005, provisional payment rules were adopted by the General Assembly of SOFIA on 26 April 2007, which aimed at achieving the quickest possible payment of rights to all authors and publishers involved.
To this end, SOFIA asked for the cooperation of publishers so that all authors not belonging to a society of authors could receive that part of the remuneration to which they were entitled in respect of PLR for the corresponding works. SOFIA and the other collective management societies such as ADAGP, SACD, SCAM, and SAIF also assisted in the distribution of sums once their members had authorised them to collect their share.  

In this way, the remuneration per copy of a book amounted to €2.29, making slightly more than €1.14 for both the author and the publisher.

The distribution threshold of 15 copies per book (€34.40 of rights, publishers’ portion of €17.20) retains within the deferred payment system, 68% of titles that have therefore attracted fewer than 15 sales but which by themselves represent less that 12% of the total remuneration. These sums are retained by SOFIA and will remain assigned to their original rights holders. These rights will be paid to them once the total copies of the book equals or exceeds 15. This threshold of 15 copies is limited in its application to the initial allocations 2003-2004 and 2005; the Board of Management is however mandated by the General Assembly to proceed, if it thinks it appropriate, to the total or partial liquidation of un-distributed sums.
For the authors’ portion, out of the 11,241 authors who benefited from the initial payment, 351 received individually between €1000 and €10,781, 2010 others received between €150 and €999.
The portion due to foreign authors amounts to €674,279 held in account and will be distributed through the intermediary of the authors’ societies in accordance with the agreements that will be signed with SOFIA. Publishers who are in direct contact with foreign authors may also ask SOFIA to share out these remunerations once they are in direct contact with the author or his agent.
There a total of 1489 publishers who will benefit from the 2003-2004 payment.
Out of this number of publishers, only 16 will receive a publisher’s share that exceeds €100,000 (in fact between €108,692 and €507,260).  
The titles that attract the highest amount of remuneration mainly involve children’s publishing and graphic novels.

During 2008, authors and publishers that are subscribers to SOFIA can, using their confidential access codes, have on-line access via SOFIA’s website to their Associate dossier; they can edit their personal data, update their bibliography and check their statements of rights.

PLR in the world

In September 2007, SOFIA organised and hosted the 7th international PLR conference; this attracted 27 delegations from Europe but also from Canada and Australia, making 62 delegates from authors’ societies and collective management companies. This event, held every 2 years, was an opportunity to summarise the current position relating to PLR in the world and its advantage for authors.
Papers from this conference were published in March 2008 and are available in a bilingual edition (English and French): Le droit de prêt dans le monde/PLR in the World, Paris, Dalloz, 2008, €45.

Le droit de prêt dans le monde / PLR in the World, Paris, Dalloz, 2008, €45 Document bureautique
Site dedicated to the 7th International Conference

Book suppliers and lending organisations - Procedures for registration and submitting returns

Book suppliers and lending organisations identified by enactment decree 2004-920 dated 31 August must (for the former) submit returns for sales of books to lending organisations; the latter must submit returns of their book purchases.  
Registration procedure
As a first step you must register on our internet site.
To do this:
2. Identify yourself using:        
pre-registration number
The application form will display pre-completed with details of your establishment.
Your pre-registration number will have been included in the letter you were sent by SOFIA. If you have not received it, click here [email to PLR department]
3. Fill in the form, stating in particular the department responsible for public lending rights (PLR) and the address of the person to whom SOFIA should send the confidential password.
The designated individual will receive the password via the chosen route (letter, fax or email).  
Connect to the PLR management site:  www.la-sofialibrairie.org  if you are a book supplier / www.la-sofiabibliotheque.org if you a lending organisation. Enter your Barcode and password; this gives you secure access to your private space. Check, using our link to the CLIL file (Commission de Liaison Interprofessionnelle du Livre), that all your lending organisation clients/book suppliers have like you a Barcode. If this is not the case, complete a request for issue. You need to be able to quote your clients’ Barcodes when submitting a return of your invoices.
Procedure for making returns
You will be offered the choice between two methods of submitting a return: on line or using Electronic Data Exchange (EDI)
You can then proceed to submit your return of book invoices using one of following two methods:  
·  A manual return by entering information directly on line on the internet site www.la-sofialibrairie.org   / www.la-sofiabibliotheque.org  depending on whether you are a book supplier or lending organisation.  
·  An automated return using a special module marketed by the SSII that publishes your bookshop/library management software, offering an EDI-mode interface with the Dilicom platform.
The last option is clearly the most convenient for users. It does however require specific developments.
If you wish to use the EDI solution, by far the least limiting and most reliable, you must inform your SSII or your IT department of the format of your returns – available from our sites – and you can then obtain the additional information needed by contacting our departments.
SOFIA has made contact with all book suppliers and lending organisations to ensure that they meet their obligations.