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Collective Licensing

What is Collective Licensing?

An introduction to the role and value of collective licensing in publishing

Collective licensing is a simple way to manage the reuse of small extracts of published copyright material. It provides an efficient, cost-effective means of satisfying the two sides of the equation: those who wish to use extracts of content, and those who hold the rights to it.

The value for licence holders

For organisations that wish to reuse copyright content without breaking the law, a collective licence—sometimes referred to as a blanket licence—provides access to a rich variety of material in return for an appropriate fee. Schools, universities, central and local government and businesses all use blanket licences to secure permission to use extracts of content by copying, scanning and other means. They provide:

  • Value-for-money access to a huge range of content to help their organisation
  • A simple, one-stop alternative to seeking permission for every piece of content they reuse
  • Peace of mind that they are not infringing copyright.

You can learn more about the value of licences and how to obtain one from the Copyright Licensing Agency and NLA Media Access.

The value for rights holders

The people who create and produce content—publishers, authors, photographers and other visual artists—are entitled to fair payment when it is copied, scanned or otherwise reused. Collective licensing provides them with the means to obtain it. Through PLS and others, licence fees are distributed to the rights holders whose publications have been shown to be copied. The system provides:

  • Licensing income that goes straight to the bottom line
  • An efficient alternative to the time-consuming process of direct licensing
  • Reassurances that copyright is protected.

Where PLS comes in

PLS oversees the collective licensing of the rights of publishers who register with us, and distributes the money that is then generated. Registering with PLS is not obligatory, but more than 4,000 publishers trust us to handle collective licensing on their behalf. From the largest international publishers to the smallest specialists, these businesses use us as a time-effective and cost-effective way to license their content and obtain income. We:

  • Allocate money to rights holders whose work has been reused
  • Ensure the publishing sector gets a fair share of collective licensing revenue
  • Represent publishers’ interests in the development of collective licences
  • Promote the value of the copyright framework that protects publishers’ rights.

If PLS doesn’t yet represent your publishing business, it’s quick and easy to register.

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