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A Message from New PLS Chief Executive, Tom West

It is a privilege to write to you on what marks my first day as Chief Executive, and I take this opportunity to introduce myself and set out some priorities in our fifth decade of service to the publishing industry.

I would like to begin with a note of recognition and thanks to my predecessor, Sarah Faulder, who has led PLS with such focus and dedication for the past 13 years.  I know I speak for all of the team and Board, past and present, when I say that it has been an absolute privilege to work with her and we wish her all the very best for the future.

I take up this role in the fortunate position of being known to many of you, having worked in various roles at PLS over a number of years, most recently over the past six years as Chief Operating Officer.  In that time, PLS has undergone significant change and is a very different organisation from the one I joined. While we remain compact in terms of the size of our team and our remit, we have diversified our offering - adding services such as PLSclear and Access to Research, and most recently, the Rights and Licensing Hub to our core collective licensing services. In the process we have built a team with a broad knowledge and skill set, enabling us to continually improve the service we provide to you all.

But while diversification will be an important part of our strategy going forward, PLS’ central focus must, and will, remain on supporting a collective licensing system that has delivered more than £41m in payments to publishers' bottom-line revenues in the past year alone. To this end, I look forward to maintaining the close working relationships with our licensing partners the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and NLA media access, as well as with our partners representing authors and visual artists, ALCS, DACS and PICSEL.  

These relationships will be critical as we navigate the unprecedented challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies and the fast-moving development and growing use of artificial intelligence. PLS will continue to strongly advocate for the preservation of the UK’s ‘gold standard’ copyright framework and will take every opportunity to highlight the flexibility and security that licensing can offer. Therefore, ensuring that collective licensing is included a potential solution to issues relating to new tech and making sure that right holders’ interests are respected will remain a key priority. The creative industries have shown in recent times how vital it is that we speak with a unified voice, and we will need to continue to work together as closely as ever in the coming months and years.

I am excited at the prospect of working with you all to find solutions and new opportunities. I recognise the unique position and responsibility that PLS has as a publisher-owned, not-for-profit organisation serving an incredibly rich and varied range of publishers across the spectrum, a responsibility that both I and the dedicated PLS team take extremely seriously.

And as always, your active engagement is always sought, valued, and greatly appreciated.

Tom West

Chief Executive