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Collective Licensing

How Collective Licensing works

Licences and the role of CLA

Licences to use extracts of content can be obtained from the Copyright Licensing Agency, which acts on behalf of PLS and other organisations representing content creators like authors and visual artists.

CLA licenses organisations to copy and use extracts from books, magazines, journals and websites. These licences set limits on what may be used—generally up to 5% of a book, journal or online work, or a single chapter or article, whichever is the greater. To learn more about the role of the Copyright Licensing Agency and its licenses, visit its website.

Licence fee income is then distributed—minus a deduction by CLA to pay for its operating costs—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 split of income was set in an independent valuation in 2015, and will be reviewed when appropriate.

PLS distributes its share of the revenue between the businesses that instruct us, minus a modest 6% deduction of our own. 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.  (Some overseas licensing organisations do not collect data from their users, and so we allocate this revenue on a pro rata basis to publishers who have received title-specific distributions in the UK.)

We manage all the collective licensing revenue that we receive quickly and efficiently. We ensure that over 98%of revenues are distributed within one month of being received by PLS—a fast turnaround that means rights holders receive the money they are entitled to without delay.

Licences and the role of NLA Media Access

PLS also partners with NLA Media Access, which works on behalf of UK newspaper and magazine publishers. It licenses more than 150,000 organisations to make paper and digital copies of content from around 7,000 newspapers, 1,500 magazines and 4,000 websites.

Where magazine publishers instruct us to do so, PLS partners with NLA Media Access to license those publishers’ content through collective licences and distribute revenue generated, in much the same way as our arrangements with the Copyright Licensing Agency. Money is distributed every month according to usage data.


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