Report: Public Lending Right (PLR) program 2007-2008

Statistics – 2008 author payments
Number of authors receiving payments:                       15,993
Number of eligible titles in PLR database:                    73,075
Total amount issued in payments to authors:     $9,115,095.24
Maximum payment per title:                                      $268.10
Maximum author payment:                                     $2,681.00
Average author payment:                                           $570.00
Median author payment:                                            $279.59

Calculating the payments
Each year, the catalogues of a selection of public libraries are surveyed electronically and compared to the list of eligible titles registered with the PLR Commission. If a title is found in a library, it is recorded as a “hit” in our system. A title can receive only one hit per sampled catalogue, even if the library contains multiple copies.

We surveyed six libraries in each language group and doubled results for libraries in the largest urban centres, as we have done in previous years. The PLR Commission makes an adjustment of one additional hit for poetry titles found in these libraries.

This year the value of a hit is $38.30. In situations where there is more than one eligible contributor to a book, the value of the hit is pro-rated among the contributors according to the percentage of the book that was their contribution. Since there is a maximum of seven possible times a book can be found, the top payment a title can receive is $268.10 (7 x $38.30). A minimum and maximum total author payment is established each year.

Library sampling
The sample includes public libraries from across Canada. We also continued to include some provincial union catalogues (databases that group together the holdings of various public libraries) in the sample. These vast databases allow the PLR sample to take into account much larger collections than those of single library systems.

We have also developed “virtual” catalogues in certain circumstances. It is not always possible to find a single library catalogue in a region sufficiently large for the PLR sample. By sampling two related catalogues (such as adjacent regions or cities) and combining the results, we are able to create a large “virtual catalogue.”

You may appeal a decision on eligibility or correct inaccurate information on your books by writing to the PLR Commission before May 1, 2008. To do so, you must enclose a copy of your book accompanied by a letter explaining why you believe your book is eligible, according to the PLR program criteria.

Sliding scale plan
A “sliding scale plan” was approved by the PLR Commission, contingent upon the federal government allocating a significant increase to the PLR program budget. As the Commission has not yet obtained the required budget increase, this plan remains on hold for the time being. For information about the sliding scale plan, please see the PLR website ( or contact PLR staff.

Budget situation
The Commission is concerned about the declining PLR payment rates. In 1986, the maximum per title was $400 but now it is $268.10. The Commission is continuing its efforts to convince the government of the need to increase the PLR program budget. 

In 2007-2008, the budget for author payments continued to benefit from the Tomorrow Starts Today funding, which provides increased federal support for the arts and culture.

Income tax and the PLR payment: FAQ

Q. Do I need to declare my PLR payment on my federal
income tax?
A. All PLR payments must be reported as income on your tax return whether you received a T4A tax slip or not. Generally, PLR earnings should be included under line 130 "Other Income" of your Federal Income Tax return. The PLR payment should be attributed to “PLR/ Canada Council” since the PLR Commission operates under the administrative aegis of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Q. Why have I not received a T4A tax slip?
A. T4A tax slips are not sent to authors who received less than $500 in the previous year. The amount of your previous PLR payment appears on your Title Earning Summary.

Q. Why does the amount of my cheque not match the amount
on the T4A tax slip?
A. The T4A tax slip reports your PLR earnings for the previous year. Next year’s T4A tax slip will report information for the February 2008 payment.