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A Public Lending Right program compensates authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries.

Fifteen countries have a PLR program, and others are considering adopting one. Canada, the United Kingdom, all the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand currently have PLR prgrams. There is ongoing debate in France and the United States about implementing one. There is also a move towards having a Europe-wide PLR program administered by the EU.

The first PLR program was initiated in Denmark in 1941, but because of the war was not properly active until 1946. The idea spread slowly from country to country and many nations' PLR programs are quite recent developments.

PLR programs vary from country to country. Some like Germany, and the Netherlands have linked PLR to copyright legislation and have made libraries liable to pay authors for every book in their collection. Other countries do not connect PLR to copyright. For a nation like Canada or Australia the majority of funds would be going to authors outside the country, much of it to the United States, which is unpalatable to those nations.

How amounts of payment are determined also varies from country to country. Some pay based on how many times a book has been taken out of a library, others use a simpler system of payment based simply on whether a library owns a book or not.

The amount of payments is also variable. The amount any one author can receive is never very considerable. In Canada for instance the payment is around C$40 per book per library, with a maximum of C$4,000 for any one author in a year.

Different countries also have differing eligibility criteria. In most nations only published works are accepted, government publications are rarely counted, nor are bibliographies or dictionaries. Some PLR services are mandated solely to fund literary works of fiction, and some such as Norway, have a sliding scale paying far less to non-fiction works. Many nations also exclude scholarly and academic texts.

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