Our Distribution Charter

How does PLS distribute the money earned from collective licensing?

In brief

The Distribution Charter explains:

Distribution Charter

Distribution Charter

1.    Introduction

1.1 PLS appoints collective management organisations to license the rights granted to PLS by Publishers. PLS currently licenses through the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and, in the case of magazine Publishers who instruct PLS to license business and government accordingly, through NLA media access (NLA). This Distribution Charter sets out the basis on which PLS distributes the resulting licensing revenue it receives.

1.2 PLS undertakes to distribute to Publishers the Net Revenue it receives from CLA and NLA regularly, diligently and accurately.

2.    Deductions

2.1 Before distribution, CLA, NLA and PLS each deducts an administration fee from the licensing revenue each receives to cover the costs of its respective operations, including third party costs. The amount that is deducted in each financial year is approved by the relevant Board. In addition, third party contributors' shares of CLA and NLA revenue in amounts determined by independent Rights Valuation in December 2015 (Collective Contributors' Shares) are deducted 'off the top' before the balance is distributed to Publishers. Contributors include Authors and Visual Artists. The Collective Contributors' Shares of CLA revenue are paid by CLA before remittance of the balance to PLS, whereas NLA remits all revenue it receives (less its administration fee) to PLS, and the Collective Contributors' Shares of that revenue are paid by PLS before the distribution of Net Revenue to Publishers.  

2.2 Publishers are under no obligation to pay Authors or Visual Artists any share of the licensing revenue they receive from PLS for CLA or NLA licensing due to the deductions in paragraph 2.3 and 2.7 below having been made. Note that in respect of NLA revenues the above applies as from 1st March 2016, and Publishers remain solely responsible for paying all Collective Contributors' Shares of NLA revenue they received up to and including the distribution in February 2016. Note also that the indemnity in paragraph 10 of the PLS General Terms and Conditions applies in respect of distributions of NLA revenues made by PLS to Publishers prior to 1st March 2016.

Further details about these deductions are as follows:

CLA Deductions
2.3 The Revenue received by PLS from CLA comprises the monies collected by CLA from the collective licensing of books, magazines and journals after deduction by CLA of:
2.3.1 the CLA administration fee, which is currently 11% (but 25% in respect of licensing revenue collected from new licences in their first 12 months to reflect more closely the actual cost to CLA of administering such licences); and
2.3.2 the Collective Contributors' Shares of such licensing revenue (after deduction of the CLA administration fee) for payment to:
2.3.2.1 the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for distribution to Authors; and
2.3.2.2 representative visual artist organisations for distribution to Visual Artists.
These Collective Contributors' Shares are re-assessed periodically.

2.4 CLA remits to PLS any unused portion of its administration fees each year in the form of Non-Title Specific Revenue.

2.5 The CLA revenue received by PLS after the deductions under paragraph 2.3 above is Net Revenue for distribution purposes.


NLA Deductions
2.6 The revenue received by PLS from NLA comprises the monies collected by NLA from collective licensing of magazines after deduction by NLA of the NLA administration fee only, which is currently 20%.

2.7 PLS deducts from the revenue received from NLA the Collective Contributors' Shares of such revenue for payment to:
2.7.1 the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for distribution to Authors; and
2.7.2 representative visual artist organisations for distribution to Visual Artists.
The Collective Contributors' Shares are re-assessed periodically.

2.8 The NLA revenue received by PLS after the deductions under paragraphs 2.6 and 2.7 above is Net Revenue for distribution purposes.


PLS Deductions
2.9 PLS deducts its own administration fee from Net Revenue at the time of making distributions to Publishers. The PLS administration fee is currently 6%. The administration fee covers the operating costs of PLS and a contribution to a reserve fund for contingencies. PLS accounts for the use of its administration fee annually at a meeting open to all Publishers. PLS does not make any other deductions from Net Revenue.

2.10 PLS may periodically review the level of its administration fee in order to determine whether the aggregate administration fee it has retained during the period under review exceeds or falls short of the amounts it requires for the proper administration of its operations. If any such review reveals that the aggregate administration fee retained by PLS during the period under review exceeds its anticipated funding requirements for the following year, or for any required longer period following such review, PLS will distribute the excess as Non-Title Specific Revenue in accordance with paragraph 3.4 below. 

If, on the other hand, PLS reasonably determines that the aggregate administration fee that it has retained during the period under review falls below its anticipated funding requirements for a period following such review (whether for the next year or for any further required period), PLS may, subject to approval by the members, increase its administration fee for the year following such review by such percentage amount as the PLS Board deems fair and reasonable in order to reflect its anticipated costs for such following year or period.

3.    Allocation of Net Revenue

3.1 Licensing revenue collected by CLA and NLA for which sufficient data is available is allocated to specific Titles by CLA and NLA (after the deductions set out in paragraphs 2.3, 2.6 and 2.7 above respectively) in accordance with their respective distribution methodologies. The allocation methodology of CLA is based on a combination of: usage reports by licensees, usage audits, surveys, and other methods as determined from time to time by the CLA Board, and licensing revenue is allocated only to Titles that carry an ISBN, an ISSN or a URL. The allocation methodology of NLA is based on licensee usage reports alone. Licensing revenue from transactional licences is allocated to the Titles used under such licences. CLA and NLA remit all such Title Specific Revenue to PLS together with the relevant data.

3.2 CLA and NLA also collect a certain amount of Non-Title Specific Revenue. Examples include revenue from overseas collecting societies in the case of CLA and revenue from republishing licences in the case of NLA. CLA and NLA remit such Non-Title Specific Revenue to PLS without allocation after deduction of their administration fees.

3.3 PLS allocates Title Specific Revenue to the Publisher linked to the applicable Title in PLSe at the date of the relevant distribution, notwithstanding that some or all of the Title Specific Revenue may relate to a period prior to the Publisher being linked to that Title in PLSe.

3.4 PLS allocates Non-Title Specific Revenue to Publishers on a pro rata basis in accordance with the policy agreed from time to time by the PLS Members.

3.5 PLS is occasionally unable to distribute Title Specific Revenue for one or more of the reasons in paragraph 4.6 below. This Title Specific Revenue is kept in a separate account by PLS. If at the end of the three-year period referred to in paragraph 4.6 any such Title Specific Revenue remains undistributable PLS reserves the right to allocate such sum to Non-Title Specific Revenue for distribution to Publishers in accordance with paragraph 3.4 above.

3.6 If PLS is notified in writing of a dispute between Publishers as to who owns a particular Title at the date of the relevant distribution, PLS shall withhold the distribution of all Title Specific Revenue payable in respect of that Title until the dispute has been resolved and the outcome has been notified to PLS in writing by all parties to the dispute. If the dispute is not resolved within six years from the date on which PLS is notified of the dispute, the Board may decide to reallocate the Title Specific Revenue so withheld to Non-Title Specific Revenue.

4.    Distribution of Net Revenue

4.1 PLS distributes the Net Revenue it receives to Publishers (subject to the provisions of this Distribution Charter) for the most part in the calendar month following receipt of such Net Revenue, although some Net Revenue is distributed in the month of receipt. In some cases PLS may need to withhold certain sums pending confirmation of title, payee or other relevant information.

Publishers can expect to receive a distribution of each of the different sources of Net Revenue in accordance with the Distribution Timetable published on the PLS website and in PLSe. The Distribution Timetable may be updated from time to time and may be subject to variation for reasons beyond the control of PLS.  PLS will notify Publishers of any changes to the Distribution Timetable in its Distribution Bulletin. Publishers wishing to be paid by cheque or with bank accounts outside the European Union will receive distributions on a twice-yearly basis.

4.2 The levels of Net Revenue payable to Publishers in accordance with this Distribution Charter may vary over time. Future Net Revenue cannot reliably be forecast on the basis of current receipts.

4.3 PLS deducts its administration fee from Net Revenue at the time of distributing such Net Revenue to Publishers.

4.4 If PLS makes a distribution in respect of a Title to the Publisher linked to that Title in PLSe on the date of distribution then such payment shall be deemed to be a good and sufficient discharge of PLS's obligations in respect of the sums involved. Publishers are required under the PLS General Terms and Conditions (clause 5) to ensure that they keep their PLS Publisher Accounts updated in PLSe on a regular basis. PLS has no liability for any sums not received by a Publisher as a result of its PLS Publisher Account being inaccurate or out of date, or for any sums received by a Publisher as a result of another PLS Publisher Account being inaccurate or out of date.

4.5 If the Net Revenue received by PLS includes sums that are properly allocated to publishers that have not signed a PLS Publisher Account, PLS will take all necessary measures to find and make contact with such publishers and if successful will pay the relevant sums to such publishers. PLS encourages such publishers to sign a PLS Publisher Account. Any sums allocated to a publisher that PLS cannot find and make contact with are treated in accordance with paragraph 4.6 below.

4.6 Where a publisher to whom Net Revenue has been allocated has ceased trading, or refuses to accept such Net Revenue, or cannot be located or contacted, PLS will take all necessary measures to try to locate and pay those sums to the entitled publisher, including making available to Publishers and the general public details of the Titles and rightsholders involved.

If after a period of at least three years from the date on which PLS receives such sums the sums remain unpaid they may be reallocated as being Non-Title Specific Revenue, to be distributed accordingly. Notwithstanding any such distribution, any publisher may claim from PLS (and PLS will pay out) sums to which that publisher is entitled, but which it has not received for one or more of the reasons set out in this paragraph, for up to six years from the date on which PLS received such sums.

4.7 If a third party claims to be entitled to receive Net Revenue in succession to a previously entitled Publisher, PLS may demand evidence in writing to support such claim before releasing the Net Revenue to such third party.

4.8 If a Publisher to which payment is due is based overseas and has no bank account in the UK PLS reserves the right to make an additional deduction from the payment made to cover the cost of the international bank transfer.

4.9 To save administration costs, a Publisher will not receive payment if the amount due at any time is less than £25 or, in the case of payments to be made by cheque, less than £200 (or such other amounts as the PLS Board may from time to time determine). Instead, sums due will be carried over and paid to the Publisher when the aggregate exceeds the applicable threshold above.

4.10 PLS is under no obligation to make a payment to a Publisher if the Publisher fails to notify PLS in writing of a change to its contact details and PLS cannot, having taken all reasonable steps, make contact with the Publisher.

4.11 PLS is entitled to retain any interest earned from money passing through its accounts and it will apply any such interest towards its operating costs only.

5.    Exclusions

5.1 PLS shall determine in its sole discretion whether, according to rules determined by PLS, a specific Title is free to copy, or belongs to a category of works not administered by PLS, or is excluded from a specific collective licence, in which case no Net Revenue shall be allocated to such Title.

5.2 A Publisher may elect in PLSe to exclude specific Titles, rights, licences and / or territories from its grant of rights to PLS, in which case no Net Revenue shall be allocated to such Publisher in respect of such excluded Titles, rights, licences and / or territories.

5.3 A Publisher cannot request that a Title is licensed to the same licensing sector through both CLA and NLA.

6.    Distribution Charter review

This Distribution Charter is reviewed by the PLS Board on a regular basis and may be amended from time to time by approval of the PLS Members. Any changes will be notified to Publishers in the PLS eBulletin and published on the PLS website.

7.    Definitions used in this Distribution Charter

7.1 Authors means magazine journalists, journal authors, book authors and other writers.
7.2 Collective Contributors' Shares is defined in paragraph 2.1.
7.3 Net Revenue means licensing revenue received by PLS from CLA and NLA after the deductions set out in paragraphs 2.3, 2.6 and 2.7 respectively.
7.4 Non-Title Specific Revenue means Net Revenue that cannot be allocated to a specific Title by CLA and/or NLA due to insufficient data.
7.5 PLSe means the account management service accessible through the PLS website and through which Publishers are able to manage and update the settings on their PLS Publisher Account.
7.6 PLS Members means together the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Professional Publishers Association, the Publishers Association and any other trade association becoming a corporate member of PLS.
7.7 PLS Publisher Account means the contract between a Publisher and PLS which is formed by the Publisher Account Form, the PLS General Terms and Conditions, the PLS Distribution Charter, the PLS Code of Conduct and the Publisher's settings in PLSe (which the Publisher must keep updated at all times).
7.8 Publishers means publishers who have granted certain reproduction and / or use rights to PLS under the terms of a PLS Publisher Account.
7.9 Title means the title of a published book, journal, magazine or website.
7.10 Title Specific Revenue means Net Revenue that either CLA or NLA has allocated to a specific Title before remitting it to PLS.
7.11 Visual Artists means photographers, illustrators and other visual creators.

Last updated: 18th March 2016