James Bennett, CLA’s Head of Rights and Licensing, gives an overview of how we came to be, and how universities and CLA worked together to develop the HE Licence.
The Copyright Licensing Agency is the UK's reprographic rights organisation. We were formed more than 35 years ago and our primary role is to sell blanket licences that allow users in the corporate, public and education sectors to copy and reuse extracts from published content.
Education has always been a key licensing sector for CLA, as access to copyright content is essential for teaching and learning. We have a particularly strong relationship with the Higher Education sector, and today CLA licenses pretty much every university and higher education institution in the UK. To ensure that the HE licence continues to be valuable to these licensees, CLA negotiates any changes to the licence with copyright experts from Guild HE and Universities UK (UUK), a group known as the 'Copyright Negotiation and Advisory Committee' (CNAC). Unsurprisingly, this relationship did not develop overnight. The CLA HE Licence and the organisations working to maintain it have a rich history of development, which arguably began more than 60 years ago.
When the 1956 Copyright Act became law, nobody could have predicted how much of an impact the invention of the photocopier would have. The 1956 Copyright Act made some allowances for fair dealing, including the making of single copies of parts of copyright works, but did not envisage multiple mechanical copies made by users. Certain libraries were able to provide a single copy of a single article from a periodical or to copy part of a book for the purposes of research or private study. Designated libraries could also supply copies of a whole work to other designated libraries where a copy could not be obtained any other way. These provisions were continued and written into the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
However, by the 1960s the risk of large-scale photocopying of copyright materials in schools, colleges, government institutions and businesses started to become more apparent. A review commissioned by the government highlighted that widespread copying was an issue, especially in the education sector. To this end, the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society and the Publishers' Licensing Society—now known as Publishers' Licensing Services since October 2017—established CLA in January 1983. CLA issued its first licence in May 1984.
By April 1986, CLA had arranged for a collective user scheme with the then 137 local education authorities responsible for the state school and college sector, covering 300,000 institutions. After establishing licensing for schools, CLA entered negotiations with HE sector representatives to cover the copying which was being done in universities. In July 2000, UUK made an application to the Copyright Tribunal for a variation in the terms and conditions of the HE licence. By May 2002, it was concluded that all copying, including course pack use, should be rolled into a single blanket licence with payment set at £4 per FTE, to be increased annually in line with the retail price index. From 2013, all state universities were covered by a comprehensive licence, which allowed for photocopying, scanning and copying from digital originals.
As it stands today, the CLA Higher Education Licence permits the copying of a single chapter, journal article or up to 10% of a whole work (whichever is greater). CLA also offers other services designed to make copyright and content simple for HEIs. One such service is Second Extract Permissions, which allows universities to acquire a licence to copy a second chapter or journal article or an additional 10% of a whole work. In 2016, CLA launched the Digital Content Store (DCS), an online workflow tool which not only helps HEIs create digital course packs and share previously scanned extracts, but also automates the reporting required by the licence. The DCS is included in the cost of the HE Licence and has recently celebrated its hundredth HEI choosing to use the platform.
Currently, CLA is about to begin negotiations with the CNAC regarding a new CLA HE Licence from 2019. With the continued cooperation of Guild HE and UUK representatives, we believe that the CLA HE Licence will continue to benefit and facilitate the teaching of students using copyright content, while also ensuring rightsholders are remunerated and thus encouraged to continue to create high quality publications.
About the author
James Bennett is CLA’s Head of Rights and Licensing.