What is the collective licensing scheme?

Key facts

  • Publishers can sign-up with the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) to be eligible to receive revenue from the collective licences issued on their behalf by the Copyright Licensing Agency Limited (CLA).
  • CLA represents UK publishers who grant mandates to PLS and individual authors who are members of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). Licence fees are also collected for visual artists.
  • CLA issues licences to UK commercial and public sector organisations permitting the limited copying of content on behalf of the copyright owners. CLA collected £73.4m in licence fees in 2012-13.
  • Licence fee revenue collected by CLA is distributed to publishers, authors and visual artists.

How the scheme works?

Collective Licensing offers a cost effective solution for content users who wish to copy or re-use content from copyright publications without breaking the law; and for publishers where direct licensing would be inefficient and burdensome. A blanket licence allows users to copy from a broad range of content in return for a licence fee which is paid to the rights holders whose publications have been copied.

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licences approximately 100,000 organisations across the UK, and carries out data collection exercises to find out what publications are being copied.

The Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) represents the interests of publishers in the UK collective licensing system, managing the mandates that publishers give to CLA and distributing revenues to publishers whose works are copied. PLS is a not-for-profit organisation that is funded through a small subvention taken from the licence fees.

The inclusion of digital publications in CLA licences is optional. However, by opting-in your digital content, you are eligible to receive revenue from copying of your content under licence. Opting in reinforces your copyright ownership in a digital world where free-to-view is often seen as free-to-copy and helps to maintain the value of CLA licences in this environment.

How to opt-in

If you are already signed up to the collective licensing scheme then the easiest way to opt-in to these licences is through your PLSe account, or if you are new to PLS, email pls@pls.org.uk:

  1. Sign in at www.pls.org.uk using your username and password. If you don’t know your username and password, email pls@pls.org.uk
  2. Click on the Licensing and Pricing tab.
  3. Opt-in to the various licences by clicking on each one in turn and following the on-screen prompts.