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PLS celebrates 40 years in publishing and £500m in distributions

Publishers’ Licensing Services celebrates the 40th anniversary of its creation in September 2021, having passed the milestone of £500m in collective licensing distributions to publishers.

PLS is marking the occasion with a party in London on Wednesday 8 September, and the publication of a new history of the organisation. It charts PLS’ origins and launch in 1981 by three leading trade bodies—the Publishers Association, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers and Professional Publishers Association—who continue to direct it to this day, alongside the Independent Publishers Guild, who became a member in 2015.

The associations created PLS to coordinate appropriate remuneration for book, journal and magazine publishers for the copying of extracts of their content, on a collective licensing basis. Since 1981, PLS has distributed more than £500m to well over 4,000 mandating publishers. Annual distributions have exceeded £30m every year since 2011 and reached a record £38.6m in 2020, with PLS able to allocate and pay nearly 99% of revenues collected to the correct rights holders of content that is copied.

PLS’ special 40-year history relates the challenges it has overcome since 1981, including early opposition to the concept of licensing the copying of content; and its close links with other bodies including the Copyright Licensing Agency and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and latterly NLA media access. It also sets out key milestones and the evolution of PLS over the last decade, including the launch of resources to support publishers’ permissions operations and rights management.

PLS Chief Executive Sarah Faulder said:

“We are thrilled to be celebrating 40 years of service in publishing. The industry has changed dramatically since we started our work, but our core responsibility to help publishers secure proper reward for the secondary use of their content remains just as important today as it was in 1981. We are proud to have distributed more than half a billion pounds in our first 40 years—money that continues to sustain publishing businesses, create jobs and power innovation.”


PLS Chair Rosie Glazebrook added:

“Everyone who has worked at PLS or served on its board over the last 40 years should be proud of what they have achieved, and we owe our biggest thanks of all to the thousands of publishers who trust us with their collective licensing. We look forward to finding even more ways to support their businesses and the publishing industry as a whole over our fifth decade.”