Publishers' Licensing Services

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Since its establishment in 1981, Publishers' Licensing Services (PLS) has provided rights management services to the publishing industry. PLS’ primary remit is to oversee collective licensing in the UK for book, journal, magazine and website copying. In addition, it also provides a range of rights management services, including the award-winning PLSclear. A not-for-profit organisation, PLS distributed more than £38.5 million from collective licensing in 2020/21 and has more than 4,000 publishers signed up to their services.

What is collective licensing?

Collective licensing offers a simple and cost-effective solution for those who wish to copy smaller extracts from published materials without breaking the law, and for rights holders where direct licensing is inefficient and not cost-effective.

PLS appoints two CMOs to license the rights granted to PLS by publishers: CLA and NLA media access. PLS distributes revenues generated from this licensing to over 4,000 publishers both in the UK and abroad according to the usage data collected from users.

Rights management guidance to publishers

The Rights and Licensing Hub is an initiative supported by Publishers' Licensing Services to share knowledge and encourage best practice in Rights and Licensing in all areas of the publishing industry and raise awareness of the importance of good rights management.

The information on the website was created by a group of industry rights experts in the UK that meet regularly to discuss current issues in rights and licensing and work to create more content and guidance to support others working in publishing.

Access to Research

The Access to Research service provides free access to academic articles in public libraries across the UK. The number of articles has grown from 4 million at launch in 2014 to over 30 million today.

The service was launched in response to a recommendation of the Finch Group, that the major journal publishers should provide free access to their academic articles in public libraries. It was developed by PLS in collaboration with the PA, Libraries Connected, The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, public libraries and publishers.

Over 98% of UK local authorities have signed up to offer the service.

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Check out PLS’ growing YouTube channel! Brief explainers for key services - Collective Licensing and all things PLSclear as well as insightful sessions from previous events. Plenty more helpful resources on their way.


PLS can also be found on Twitter and Linkedin.