THE debate on intellectual property rights tends to focus on such products as computer software and compact discs: on concepts and talents that take years to develop, and offer the potential of big rewards for large corporations, particularly American ones. If the information superhighway is paved with gold, the road-builders are not offering anyone a free ride. This makes perfect sense. Those who develop new ideas and new ways of doing things deserve to be rewarded for their originality and for their risk-taking. However, in tackling piracy, little account has been taken of the position of a group of creative people who receive little reward although their work is regularly borrowed and enjoyed: authors. A single library book may be borrowed dozens of times, and its author may forfeit many potential sales, yet he or she will receive no compensation. Britain and other countries - under pressure from writers - have introduced schemes whereby authors receive payments each time their books are borrowed from libraries. In Hong Kong, where a book lacks the cachet of a Rolex watch, and publishers are hardly in the same league as record companies, authors get nothing. Such an anomaly is hardly surprising. Few people in Hong Kong would even attempt to make a living out of writing books. Most authors are journalists or academics seeking a wider audience or the approbation of their peers. Also, the amount of money any individual author would receive under some form of Public Lending Right measures would generally be small. In Britain, legislation was introduced following a campaign led by Fay Weldon and other leading writers. In the absence of pressure from writers or readers, it is not surprising that the Hong Kong authorities have displayed little apparent interest in such a scheme. Nonetheless, the Government should take a closer look at the subject. The cost of such a scheme need not be high, but rewarding authors should encourage creativity and could add a little lustre to cultural life in Hong Kong.