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Seven messages from the PLS Rights & Licensing Forum
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Posted by IPG
The IPG is a proud member of Publishers’ Licensing Services, and we were pleased to be at its Annual Rights & Licensing Forum at Stationers’ Hall this week. Here are some of our key takeaways

1 £36m was distributable to publishers in 2017-8

PLS increased the collective licensing revenues distributable to publishers by 9.6% in the year to March 2018—to a total of £36m. It is the second-highest figure in PLS’ history, said chief executive Sarah Faulder. Around 3,800 publishers are now registered with PLS, but if you are not yet one of them you can sign up to receive any monies owed to you here.

2 Corporate licensing has increased

Mat Pfleger of the Copyright Licensing Agency reported that corporate licensing was the biggest driver of increased revenues in 2017-18. New deals with central government, NHS England and NHS Wales have boosted income too.

3 Publishing needs to stay vigilant on copyright

A Forum panel discussed recent developments in copyright and policy, and highlighted major challenges around the ‘five Es’, including enforcement, exceptions and exhaustions. “The [copyright] debate is hostile and negative… Publishing is on trial and we need to defend it,” said Will Bowes of the Publishers Association. Pirate sites like SciHub are making copyright protection particularly onerous for academic publishers, added the IPG’s academic and policy correspondent Richard Fisher—and ongoing confusion over Open Access models is causing further headaches.

4 Publishers deserve protection

Richard Fisher pointed out that some 55,000 people are employed in UK publishing—nearly four times as many as in the fishing industry. That makes it a sector that merits far greater support from central government in the context of Brexit negotiations. “What we’d like to see is a proper recognition of the importance of what we do.”

5 There is work to be done on e-copyright

The Forum panel said publishers need to stay alert on two more of the Es of copyright: e-lending and e-content. Current policy on the lending of ebooks is generally satisfactory, speakers agreed, but publishers need to make strong cases for robust defence of digital content and zero VAT on it. “It’s important that publishers say they’re not immune [from infringement]… that we’re not keen for our stuff to be used in an unauthorized way," said Andrew Yeates of the Professional Publishers Association.

6 PLS Permissions is helping publishers…

A Forum session on PLS Permissions heard that the services had handled some 4,000 permissions requests in their first year. A panel agreed that it had made the handling of permissions quicker, easier and more cost-effective for publishers. “It’s been a great success for us… it’s a no-brainer to partner with PLS,” said John Wiley’s Rebecca Cook. “Simple to use and easy to set up,” added Kogan Page’s Amy Joyner.
PLS Permissions helps publishers to streamline their permissions processes or outsource them completely. There is more about the services here.

7… and requestors

Around 2,000 requestors are now registered with PLS Permissions too. One of them, freelancer Beth Dufour, told the Forum that it made life much easier for any authors, editors or others seeking to use publishers’ content. “I need a system I can rely on… it’s a quick, easy and accurate way of getting [requests] to the right people at the right time.”

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