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Helping the legal sector keep on the right side of copyright law

Headshot of Andy GreenanCLA Sales Operations Manager, Andrew Greenan, looks at how the Agency’s Legal Licence helps law firms stay legal

The world of law is no stranger to the perils and pitfalls of copyright and patent legislation. Many high profile trials have been fought over issues such as ‘fair use’ and copyright infringements in the worlds of commerce, music and literature. Think of rappers being sued for misappropriating samples from other artist’s records, or high-fashion brands getting into legal hot water for ‘borrowing’ too closely from their rivals. But what about the world of the lawyers themselves? What impact does copyright have on their work?


Mitigate infringement risks and respect copyright law

Law is one of the most highly regulated sectors in the UK and, as such, companies in the sector should all be well aware of the importance of not using published content without obtaining the proper licence or authorisation. This is why the vast majority of law firms in the UK hold a Law Licence from CLA. Created in consultation with the Law Society of England & Wales and the City of London Law Society (CLLS), these specialist licences allow firms to make copies of extracts, subject to certain terms and conditions, from books, journals and periodicals published in print and from a wide range of digital publications.

CLA’s Law Licence covers the use of published content internally within a firm – whether this involves sharing content internally for market intelligence, research and development, staff training or a variety of other uses. It also covers the use of copied content outside of a firm. This is a vital part of the licence as almost all law firms need to send third-party information to their clients and to other stakeholders in a case.

Extend permissions beyond legal databases

If your office subscribes to legal databases or information management systems, a limited number of employees will have access to their content, with some permissions to share internally (usually on a title-by-title basis). While valuable, these agreements often do not cover all permission needs for print and digital publications, as they focus solely on law-related content. Specialist and trade publications and sector-specific content relevant to individual cases are typically excluded. Additionally, these systems may not cover all staff for departmental and individual subscriptions or for internal training and research.

The CLA Law Licence covers millions of titles, offering cost-effective and practical support for content and permissions not included in these database agreements, protecting your firm from copyright infringement.

Sharing content under the CLA Law Licence

The good news is that, under the terms and conditions of the licence, single copies of published content may be sent to:

  • External organisations for the purposes of regulatory or patent submissions.
  • Clients, advisers or third parties involved in a matter on which the firm has already been engaged.
  • Prospective and existing clients with the intention of alerting them to a matter on which further advice might be sought, on an ad hoc basis only.
  • Barristers, advisers and other judicial staff in connection with the preparation, institution or defence of legal proceedings.
  • Witnesses and law enforcement agencies.

Do you own or subscribe to the material?

One key thing to note is that under the CLA Licence terms and conditions, the licensee must own or subscribe to the publication from which they wish to copy, with the exception of free-to-view material. To put it simply, suitable source copies are publications (print or digital) that are owned or subscribed to by the organization that takes out the licence.

With the above in mind, you may wish to apply for a CLA Licence or you may want further information to establish if a licence is required, if this is the case, please use the button below to contact us or call us on 020 7400 3171.  

Start your licence enquiry


Ethical Imperatives for Compliance and Responsibility

Colin Hulme headshot orange border

Featured article authored by IP specialist, Colin Hulme

Hulme, the Head of IP at Burness Paull LLP and a distinguished figure with a Band 1 ranking in Chambers UK and recognition in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame, delves into the crucial ethical imperatives surrounding compliance and responsibility in this insightful article.

Read article

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