Annual Rights & Licensing Forum 2022
6th July 2022, Stationers Hall
The newly refurbished Stationers Hall provided the grand setting for the 2022 PLS Rights and Licensing Forum. The Hall, which was originally rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, was reopened in early July after a £7.5 million refurbishment in anticipation of the Stationers' Company's 350th anniversary next year.
The Forum provides PLS the chance to report back to publishers on the year's progress and to meet members face to face to discuss how collective licensing and effective rights management is assisting their businesses. As the guests arrived and familiar faces were welcomed, it was difficult to believe that the Forum had been held virtually for the past two years. In a sign of the new post-pandemic normal and a change in priorities reflected across the industry, PLS made sure that sustainability was front and centre of the day, which was reflected in various changes including a vegetarian buffet that guests enjoyed on arrival.
Before the speeches commenced, publishers were able to meet with PLS staff for one-to-one meetings to review their accounts. PLS’ Rights Group, a group of rights professionals from across publishing, also convened before the main session began to discuss developments in the rights management world. An audience drawn from all corners of the publishing world then took their seats in the main hall where they and PLS' speakers were gathered under the stained-glass gazes of Shakespeare, Caxton and St Cecelia, ready for the Forum to begin.
The Forum was opened by PLS Chief Executive, Sarah Faulder, who gave an overview of how PLS had adapted to post-pandemic conditions and how it had fared over the past year. She also provided an update on the PLS’ involvement in the Ukrainian government’s ‘Books Without Borders’ project and set out the challenges that lie ahead. Chief Operating Officer, Tom West, then provided an update on collective licensing and gave details of the record distributions that PLS has made over the past year.
PLS' Head of Rights and Licensing, Amy Ellis, updated the audience on the progress of PLS Clear, PLS' award-winning permissions service that continues to go from strength to strength, and PLS Rights and Licensing Hub, an online platform developed by rights professionals that facilitates knowledge sharing and encourages best practice. Helen Jennings, PLS' Product Development Officer responsible for Access to Research, gave a briefing on the progress of service and how the popular service continues to be used in libraries across the UK.
The final forum event was a policy panel chaired by PLS' Policy and Communications Manager, Will Crook. Amidst the backdrop of fast-moving changes in Westminster, the panel touched upon a wide range of policy issues facing publishers as well as the policy challenges that may arise over the next year. Expert knowledge was provided by Catriona Stevenson, General Counsel at the Publishers Association; Sebastian Cuttill, Senior Public Affairs Executive at the Professional Publishers Association; Sarah Fricker who represented the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers; Richard Fisher who contributed on behalf of the Independent Publishers Guild, and Saskia Perriard-Abdoh, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Copyright Council.
The Forum was closed by PLS Chair, Rosie Glazebrook, who thanked all those who attended and took part. Guests were then directed to the garden area, which was bathed in summer sunlight, where they finished the day at a drinks reception hosted by PLS in partnership with Book Aid.