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Collective Licensing

Collective Licensing FAQs


What is collective licensing?

Collective licensing is the system used to manage the copying and reuse of small extracts of copyright content. Publishers can mandate a Collective Management Organisation (CMO) like PLS to licence its content for reuse on their behalf. More than 4,000 publishers do this, so a large pool of content is then available to organisations to copy, scan or otherwise reuse. These organisations—like schools, universities and businesses—can take out a ‘blanket’ licence that entitles them to do so within set terms. The money they pay for these licences is then passed to CMOs, for onward distribution to the rights holders whose content has been used.

Watch this short video for a quick and accessible guide to how collecting licensing works.


Why should I be interested?

Registering with PLS for collective licensing has several major advantages. It is an easy alternative to the time-consuming process of licensing small extracts of content for reuse on a case-for-case basis. It protects your content from copyright infringement and ensures that those copying extracts from your content are using it a mutually satisfactory way. It also generates licensing income that goes straight to the bottom line.


Where does PLS come in?

We oversee the collective licensing of the rights of publishers who register with us. We then distribute the money that collective licences generate to the rights holders of the content.


Who issues licences?

Licences to use extracts of content are obtained from the Copyright Licensing Agency and NLA media access. They act on behalf of PLS and others, and issue and enforce licences that set the terms for the copying of content.


What money can I get?

We allocate revenue according to representative usage data collected by our licensing partners – CLA and NLA. This means that publishers can expect to receive payment based on the use of their content under the licences.  Put simply, the more often your content is copied in places like schools, universities and businesses, the more collective licensing revenue you stand to receive.


When and how do I get paid?

We distribute the revenue that we receive from CLA and NLA every month*, on a rolling cycle according to the source of the income. All payments are made electronically.

* and every 6 months for non-UK accounts.


What does it cost me?

There is no charge for registering with PLS and no rolling fees. Before distribution, PLS makes a 6% deduction from collective licensing revenue to cover our operating costs.


Will I lose control of my rights?

No: you retain control over how your copyright content is licensed. We simply require a non-exclusive grant of rights which provides the authority we need for the licensing of your content through collective licences. There are no strict rules on the rights you license through PLS, and you can exclude some rights from your agreement if you wish. You are free to take part in other types of licences, like transactional document delivery licences granted to libraries and other suppliers. There is no long-term commitment: agreements with PLS can be terminated with six months written notice.


How will I know my rights are protected?

As well as issuing licences, the Copyright Licensing Agency makes sure they are being used in accordance with their terms. It closely monitors licence use and encourages organisations that do not hold licences, but who may be reusing extracts of content, to obtain one. It also promotes the UK’s broader copyright framework and the value of publishers’ content. All this ensures robust protection for collectively licensed content.

What’s the difference between collective licensing and permissions?

Collective licensing manages the type of high-volume, low-level reuse that it would be impractical and uneconomic for rightsholders to manage alone.  Permissions covers use of extracts that falls outside of what is covered by collective licensing, such as reproduction in another publication. PLS can help publishers manage their permissions as well as collective licensing; click here to learn more about our PLSclear permissions service.


Am I eligible to join?

All UK-based and many overseas publishers of books, magazines, journals and websites can authorise PLS to manage their participation in UK collective licensing, and take advantage of our other services such as our PLSclear permissions service. We welcome all publishers, however large or small, and from every sector.


How do I get started?

It’s quick, easy and free to register, and we have lots of resources to help you. Click here to register, or contact our friendly team at or 020 7079 5930 if you would like to know more.


How do I manage my collective licensing?

Every organisation that registers with us gets access to PLS Account Manager. This is a free and intuitive service that provides everything you need to make the most of collective licensing. You can use it to monitor your income and data, control your licensing settings, add new titles and much more. Our team is always on hand to answer any queries you have.


Do authors and artists benefit from collective licensing too?

Yes. The money generated by licences is shared fairly between PLS and three other organisations representing authors and visual artists: the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, Design and Artists Copyright Society and Picture Industry Collecting Society for Effective Licensing. The current split of the money was decided by an independent valuation in 2015 and is subject to periodic review. This system ensures that everyone involved in creating and producing content—publishers, authors, artists and others—all receive an appropriate share.