PLS' recent Open Meeting provided important updates on collective licensing—and some good tips for making the most of it
1 Sort out your contracts
Before publishers can start to increase their licensing income, they have to be clear on what licenses they own. But as several speakers at the Open Meeting pointed out, agreements are often poorly organized, out of date and kept in a variety of places. Go through your contracts to be clear on what rights they grant you, make sure they are all up to date and centralize them in one location that everyone in the company can access.
2 Sign up to PLS
Any independent publisher not yet signed up to PLS should join as soon as they can. Membership means you get fair payment for the copying of your content, handled efficiently by PLS and thus reducing your admin time. The account form is simple and gives publishers flexibility over the licensing they want PLS to look after, and all accounts can be managed easily online. It is free and well worth your while: PLS has distributed £35.2m to publishers in the last year. You can learn more and sign up here
3 Champion rights
Publishers sometimes neglect rights and licensing because they don’t have anyone in their company to take charge of them. Put someone in control, and make sure everyone understands rights systems and strategies, from the top of the business down. “It’s essential to have a champion… we need the support of high level people,” said rights consultant Clare Painter at the Open Meeting.
4 Use PLSclear
Permissions can bring in useful income, but whether you are requesting or granting them, they are a hassle to administer and easily overlooked. PLS’ solution is PLSclear, which lets publishers and authors identify the content they want to re-use and get a quick license or response from the rightsholder. You can outsource the whole permissions process too. Find out more here
5 Stay on top of policy
Organisations like PLS, CLA and ALPSP spend a lot of their time monitoring changes to policy in copyright and licensing, both at UK and European level. The Brexit vote could well bring more change to legal aspects of publishers’ rights, so it is important that publishers follow news, promote the value of copyright and contribute to any public consultations in the field. Sign up to PLS’s newsletters, and keep an eye on the IPG’s own ebulletins for updates too.
6 Combat piracy
Illegal copying of content can drastically reduce the licensing income that is available to publishers. Various industry initiatives help to combat the threat, and all publishers can develop their own strategies for identifying instances of piracy and then acting on them. For anti-piracy solutions available to IPG members, see our Members' Zone
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