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PLR and Contracts


PLR, Contracts and Miscellaneous Matters

WritersServices Factsheet 18 by Michael Legat

Factsheet index

Public Lending Right in the UK

PLR is the scheme under which authors receive a sum of money each time any one their books is borrowed from a public library. It pays, therefore, as soon as a book of yours has been published to send details about it to the Public Lending Right Office, Richard House, Sorbonne Close, Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland TS17 6DA. Ask for a form, and it will be sent to you.

The PLR scheme is funded by the Government. The payments go straight to the registered author, and the moneys are not shared with the publisher, nor with an agent.

Moral Rights

Under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988, the author’s moral rights are protected. There are four such rights, two of which have more applications than the others:

The Right of Paternity. This ensures that your name will appear on your work in any edition and establishes protection against your work being attributed to someone else. It is necessary to ‘assert’ this right. If you look in the first pages of books published in the last decade or so, you will see the notice asserting this right.

The Right of Integrity. This establishes protection against your work being mutilated or distorted in any form in which it may appear.

Terms of Contracts

The Minimum Terms Agreement has been signed by the UK Society of Authors and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain on the one hand, and individual publishers on the other. By signing it, the publisher guarantees that contracts with authors who are members of the Society and the Guild will not offer less than the terms set out in the MTA. These cover not only advances, royalties and the split between the publisher and the author of income from the sale of subsidiary rights, but also the entitlement of the author to be consulted on such matters as the design of the jacket or cover and the blurb.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain has negotiated agreements with theatre managements and television and film producers to protect their authors’ rights and to guarantee minimum payments.

The Society of Authors

The British authors’ organization, with a membership of over 7,000 writers. Membership is open to those who have had a book published, or who have an offer to publish (without subsidy by the author).

Offers individual specialist advice and a range of publications to its members. Has also campaigned successfully on behalf of authors in general for improved terms and established a minimum terms agreement with many publishers. Recently campaigned to get the Public Lending Right fund increased from £5 million to £7 million for the year 2002/2003. Regularly uses input from members to produce comparative surveys of publishers’ royalty payment systems.

and the Writers’ Guild negotiate with the BBC on the moneys which will be paid to authors for broadcast material.


Further information on all the items in this Factsheet is available in An Author’s Guide to Publishing and also in Writing for a Living, both by Michael Legat


© Michael Legat 2001