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CLA Speaks at PLS’s Annual Rights and Licensing Forum 2018

16th July 2018

Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS) hosted their Annual Rights and Licensing Forum on the 10th July 2018. Read on for our summary of the event and highlights from the talk Mat Pfleger, Chief Executive of CLA, gave to attendees.

Mat Pleger discussing the DCS at the PLS Annual Meeting

Having anticipated a sweltering afternoon at the PLS Annual Rights and Licensing Forum (which typically falls on the hottest day of the year), we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves blessed with a cool day and a break from what has been a stifling heat wave. PLS are one of the founding members of CLA and responsible for distributing royalties from our licences to publishers.

Over two hundred attendees—a record-breaking turnout—gathered at the beautiful and historic Stationers’ Hall, built in 1673. Mark Bide, Chair of Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS, formerly Publishers Licensing Society), opened the forum with a brief history of the building and some insight into its significance to the theme of the day. It was certainly a fitting venue, with stunning stained-glass windows and murals, illustrating figures from the very early days of the creative industries.

Next, Sarah Faulder, Chief Executive of PLS, summarised the highlights for PLS in the last year. It was an excellent year for revenue distributable to publishers; Sarah pointed out that this ‘goes straight to bottom line of publishers’ balance sheets’, allowing them to continue to publish the new material that customers need.

Next up to the podium was CLA Chief Executive Mat Pfleger, who gave an overview of CLA’s year and how revenue from the CLA licences held by 44,707 organisations flows back to rightsholders as royalties.

He then commended the recently renewed two-year Licence Plus deal with NHS Wales as well as the recently renewed five-year Licence Plus deal with NHS England. CLA has also recently agreed a three-year licence deal with Central Government. These agreements will allow customers to continue to support the creative industries through their licences, as well as continuing to provide a simple, effective means of copyright compliance while allowing our customers to access the content they need.

Mat applauded the continued growth of the Digital Content Store, our workflow tool for Higher Education licence holders. The platform was launched only 18 months ago, yet is now used by 95+ Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and covers 53% of students in the UK, with a whopping 3.5 million student downloads of content so far.

Next, we heard the latest on KeyLinks. CLA and Kortext are jointly developing this resource list management system, with hopes to launch later this year. Mat gave an overview of how the platform will better connect and inform academics and librarians when creating lists of resources for students to use.

Following a much-needed cup of tea and some biscuits, we all returned to the hall where we were provided with an insightful update on the current affairs in copyright policy by a panel of experts. The speakers were Andrew Yeates, who advises the PPA and is on the PLS board; Will Bowes, who joined the Publishers Association in December and is a lawyer by profession; and Richard Fisher, a former CUP publisher who is now with IPG.

The speakers discussed how to tackle issues with online piracy and platforms which bypass paywalls. The speakers advised publishers that these organisations are successful because they are simple to use, so publishers need to make their own content ‘discoverable.’

Will Bowes made the bold statement that ‘publishing is on trial and we need to defend it.’ He argued that publishing was originally introduced to encourage learning by increasing access to books, arguing that publishing is necessary to retain production of high-quality books which are in turn necessary for education. Richard Fisher added that 50-60,000 people work within the publishing sector in the UK, and the creative industry is worth £91.8 billion.

Finally, PLS’s own Amy Ellis and Rachel Hunt hosted a panel of speakers who discussed PLSclear. Speakers Amy Joyner of Kogan Page, Rebecca Cook of John Wiley and Sons, Beth Dufour of ClearPermissions and Stephen Tyers of SPCK and IVP all praised PLS Permissions service for publishers, explaining that the clarity and simplicity of the online tools, and the expertise of Amy and Rachel, who have helped them invaluably with their permissions management. 

To find out more about PLS and how they work, visit their website. More about the relationship between CLA, PLS, and our other member organisations can be found here.

It was an excellent afternoon and great for us to get the chance to talk to the publishers in attendance. The event emphasised the value of collective licensing in supporting the creation of new work.

About Publishers’ Licensing Services

Publishers' Licensing Services (PLS) provides rights management services to the publishing industry. PLS represents the interests of publishers in collective licensing and offers a range of online services to help publishers optimise efficiencies in permissions licensing.

PLS, along with ALCS, DACS and PICSEL, is a member of CLA. It also works in partnership with NLA media access.

Further details of PLS Permissions can be found at