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US authors seek fees for library lending

American authors, asserting that their works have been used free by public libraries for too long, are seeking federal payments for books lent by libraries.

The authors hope to persuade Congress to establish a government program to pay them a small annual fee - an author's lending royalty - each time their book is borrowed from a public library.

''It's a matter of simple justice,'' says Robert Caro, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and past president of the 6,000-member Authors Guild.

Authors who support the plan envision following a European model funded by the federal government, not the public libraries.

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