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Brief history of the Public Lending Right Program

1946 The world’s first library compensation program is developed in Denmark.

1951 The Massey-Lévesque Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences reports on two Special Studies it had requested on the subject of Canadian literature. The two authors of the studies, reporting respectively on English- and French-language literature, are in agreement: “Neither in French nor in English have we yet a truly national literature”.

1957 The Canada Council for the Arts is established.

1973 The Writers Union of Canada is founded.

1977 The Canada Council sets up the Payment for Public Use Committee to discuss the creation of a PLR program.

UNEQ (l’Union des écrivaines et des écrivains Québécois) is founded to defend the rights of Quebec authors.

1982 The Applebaum-Hébert Committee recommends that the government establish a program to pay authors for the use of their books in libraries.

1986 The PLR Program is established by a Cabinet decision in March 1986, with an initial budget of $3 million allocated to it by Treasury Board Secretariat. Canada becomes the 13th country in the world to develop a PLR program. The program’s initial name is changed from Payment for Public Use (PPU) to Public Lending Right (PLR), although the program does not track library lending. A catalogue-based system is adopted.

1987 The first PLR cheques are mailed to authors in March. The minimum payment is set at $25.

1988 The PLR Commission’s Constitution and Bylaws are developed and approved.

1999 Canada hosts the 3rd PLR International Conference in Ottawa.

2005 The PLR Commission fully adopts electronic sampling of public library collections.

2008 The PLR Commission unanimously adopts a growth management strategy, which includes a new payment scale for PLR payments.

2010 The PLR Commission implements the four-tier payment scale.

2011 The PLR Commission moves to accept the recommendations of the Paul Whitney report on electronic publishing and libraries, setting the stage for the eligibility of ebooks in the PLR Program.

2012 Author Roy MacSkimming publishes the first of three major research studies related to PLR; subsequent reports address the arrival of new technologies and compare the Canadian model to other PLR systems operating around the world.

2014 The PLR Commission adopts a revised minimum payment level of $50.

2015 The PLR Commission collaborates with the Board of the Canada Council to update its Constitution and Bylaws.

2016 The PLR Program opens registration to ebooks and begins to consider the future eligibility of audiobook materials. The Canada Council publishes Shaping a New Future: Strategic Plan 2016-2021, containing the pledge to increase direct payments to authors through the Public Lending Right Program.

2017 The 12th PLR International Conference is held in Paris. Some 33 countries have now implanted a form of PLR, a remarkable success story.

2018 The PLR Commission introduces a series of program reforms to ensure the Program’s relevance, sustainability and support to new titles and creators going forward. Eligible title registrations will now be paid for a period of up to 25 years. Approximately 800 new creators register their work with the PLR Program each year.

2019 The PLR Program opens registration to audiobooks, providing additional opportunity for authors, translators, and narrators to benefit from the payment budget. For the first time, works must have been published during the previous five years in order to be eligible for registration. PLR now incorporates library catalogue information from all provinces and territories of Canada in its annual searches.