The Check Permissions tool is an essential linchpin of our Licence and customer service. While blanket permission to copy millions of titles is fantastic, it's helpful to have an easy way to fulfil the licence repertoire check and to know whether that one particular resource sitting on your desk is covered by our licence.
Enter the Check Permissions tool. First developed in 2012, this user-friendly interface allows you to input an ISBN, ISSN or URL in order to receive an immediate response as to whether the title is covered for re-use or not - essentially to see if it is covered by the definition of Licensed Material in the terms and conditions.
Behind the scenes at CLA we maintain an enormous database totalling some 23.5 million titles. For the titles to be useful in the Check Permissions tool however, and to return you a definitive included or excluded result, they need to be linked to the correct rightsholder information.
This is populated from a raft of sources. Publishers provide data on their works via regular updates from our co-parent company, PLS. Through our relationships with overseas CMOs a stream of international titles is also added. And we're also provided with repertoire information from those CMOs we work as agents for - namely NLA and PMLL.
Every data touchpoint with licensees also feeds in to the system. Data Collection Exercises across many sectors return yet more information that we add to the tool, as do the annual Digital Copy Record Forms from the HE sector. A report of all 'not found' Check Permissions results is also regularly generated so as to plug gaps, and each permissions query to the Education Team is logged and passed to the Data Team so that a definitive result will be returned in the tool next time round. And now another tributary - the DCS and occassions where a HEI has overridden a 'not found' result with bibliographic data - is contributing to the flow of information.
All these updates and additions mean that the number of titles correctly linked to rightsholder information has increased rapidly in the last three years, to approximately 6.7 million titles. It also means that the database behind the Check Permissions tool is the only one in the UK that we know of that contains accurate information about current rightsholders of older works. Because we need to ensure our licence fees are distributed correctly, the movement of imprints and publisher acquisitions are reflected in our database - which is why the publisher information given by the tool sometimes conflicts with the original copyright information on the material you hold.
In practical terms, all this data processing translates into an excellent hit rate for licensees checking permissions on the CLA site. In recent months, where a licensee hits the 'show permissions' button, a definitive result (included or excluded) is returned in 86.8% of cases - and in 70.7% of cases the result shows that the material is included.
So remember that if you're returned a 'not found' result in the Check Permissions tool, it doesn't necessarily mean that the material isn't covered under our Licence, just that the data hasn't yet been linked to the current rightsholder. But with every drop of data fed in to the Check Permissions tool, more and more of those 23.5 million titles are converted in to tangible and definitive results.