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Public Administration Licence for Local Authorities: Essential FAQs answered

Headshot of Daniel ElseyPublic Sector Licensing Manager and licence specialist, Daniel Elsey, answers your questions.

CLA’s Daniel Elsey has been licensing Local Authorities, public bodies, and government departments for over 17 years. Here he takes you through the answers to the most frequently asked questions about CLA’s Public Administration Licence for Local Authorities, helping you to Copy, Right.

We don’t photocopy, scan, or print documents – are we still at risk of copyright infringement?

Yes! In today’s digital workplace, various forms of copying can occur, often unnoticed by you and your colleagues. This includes copying and pasting from online subscriptions into reports, briefings, or emails, saving articles electronically on servers or PCs and sharing or hosting external articles on your website. Digital actions like screenshotting, sending snippets in emails, saving to an intranet, or circulating media clipping also carry copyright infringement risks without the required permissions.

Thousands of UK organisations, including local authorities, use media monitoring providers to access media coverage. There are limitations set in the agreement between CLA and these Media Monitoring agencies. Specifically, it only permits one recipient in the organisation to receive the coverage, and it restricts further sharing, saving, and copying of received media coverage.

Professional development within an organisation often includes training modules, with content conveniently packaged into in-house resources for staff. This content could include material protected by copyright.

Without the required copyright permissions, these actions put you and your organisation at risk of infringing copyright, similar to traditional methods like photocopying, scanning and printing.


We subscribe to websites and journals already – so why do we need a CLA Licence?

While subscriptions grant you access to the content, there’s a crucial distinction between accessing and having the right to copy and share that content. Many publications have explicit copyright statements prohibiting copying, storing, or sharing. Therefore, subscribing to a service doesn’t always give you free rein to reuse its content.   

In Local Authorities, commonly subscribed titles, such as Local Government Chronicle, Municipal Journal, Local Government News, Health Service Journal, Community Care, Building, and Encyclopaedia of Local Government Law, will have copyright disclaimers. Misinterpretation of subscription access can inadvertently lead to copyright infringement.

If we didn’t have the licence before, why would we need it now?

Staff are often unaware of their legal responsibilities regarding copying, scanning, and distributing copyrighted materials.

Obtaining a CLA licence not only fulfils the legal obligation for all organisations to comply with copyright law, but it demonstrates a commitment to responsible behaviour, ensuring adherence to the law and respecting the rights of creatives. This aligns with sustainability governance by integrating copyright compliance into broader Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies. It also contributes to your organisation’s ethical practices, setting an example for others by prioritising legal compliance, and respecting intellectual property.

Are there risks to not taking the CLA Licence?

Failing to obtain a CLA Licence puts your organisation at risk of copyright infringement. Infringing copyright law is undesirable for any government body, potentially resulting in legal consequences and financial penalties, as well as a risk of reputational damage. A stark example of this can be seen in cases such as Brighton and Hove, where legal action was pursued for copyright infringement, highlighting the serious consequences of non-compliance. 

Additionally, opting not to acquire a CLA Llicence might be interpreted as underestimating the worth of the creative community, sidestepping compensation for creators and rights holders for use of their intellectual property. Fair remuneration for publishers, authors and visual artists supports the growth and sustainability of the creative sector.   

Beyond financial considerations, there is an expectation from society for governmental bodies to ‘do the right thing,’ encompassing the importance of behaving responsibly by following and respecting the law.    

Obtaining a CLA Licence becomes crucial in fulfilling these expectations, leading by example and minimising risks of copyright infringement. 

What is indemnity (backdating)?

Indemnity allows you to backdate to a specific period, up to 6 years, to cover for any past copying that would have taken place without a licence. Indemnity should be considered where an organisation has identified that they require a licence moving forward, as it is likely in many cases that the same copying practices will also have been ongoing previously. The fees for backdating your licence are calculated using the rate applicable in the current year and applied for each year that the licence is backdated.

What content is covered by the CLA Licence?

The CLA Public Administration Licence for Local Authorities covers the copying and sharing of published works. You can check whether a specific title or website is included on CLA’s Check Permissions tool. This includes millions of UK publications and those of 40 countries throughout the world, including all major European countries and the USA. The CLA Licence for Local Authorities is a blanket licence, meaning you don’t need individual permissions to copy from the millions of titles within the CLA repertoire.

What is a ‘blanket licence’?

The CLA Licence is commonly referred to as a ‘blanket licence’ due to its ability to grant copyright permissions for the millions of published works within the CLA repertoire through a single licence. By obtaining a CLA Licence, organisations can gain permission to copy a wide range of works, including journals, websites, books, and other content, without having to seek individual permissions for each specific work. This streamlined approach simplifies the permissions process, resulting in significant time savings by minimising the need for numerous individual permissions requests and invoices to be managed.

What is the definition of a Professional Employee for Local Authorities?

Professional Employees for Local Authorities are defined as individuals employed at Spinal Column Point 33 and above (SCP 71 in Scotland), corresponding to higher-level salaries. Please note that this does not include inner or outer London weighting.

Teaching staff in schools should be excluded when calculating your Professional Employee number.

Contact us for further details and guidance.

Why trust CLA?

Over the past four decades, CLA has earned a reputation for excellence in rights and licensing. CLA is regulated by the government as the collective licensing body for the reuse of text and images from books, journals, and magazines. Revenues are distributed to copyright owners, ensuring fair compensation for rightsholders and support for the UK’s creative economy. CLA licences 700+ Public Sector organisations throughout the UK, supporting collaboration, innovation, and commitment to respect copyright law.

Licence enquiries

If you’d like to enquire about a new licence, you can use the form via the form below. Alternatively, you can contact our team on 0204 5120096 or 

Enter your details below and one of our team will get back to you.

If you have further questions or require additional information on our Public Administration Licence, our team are here to help. Existing licence holders can contact our Customer Success team on 020 7400 3171 or 

Whether you’re seeking clarification on licence use or want to discuss licence options, we look forward to hearing from you.