Copyright Licensing and the Copyright Licensing Agency

The Copyright Licensing Agency

The Copyright Licensing Agency is the body that deals specifically with the licensing of certain copyright material in the UK and is defined specifically in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 as:

“a society or other organisation which has as its main object, or one of its main objects, the negotiation or granting,  either as owner or prospective owner of copyright or as agent for him, of copyright licences, and whose objects include  the granting of licences covering works of more than one author.”

The Copyright Licensing Agency was established in 1983 and is owned by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited (ALCS) and the Publishers’ Licensing Society Limited (PLS) in order to perform collective licensing on their behalf.

There is also an agreement in place with the Design and Artists Copyright Society Limited (DACS) that enables the Copyright Licensing Agency to license the copying of artistic works on their behalf.

The Music Industry

In relation to the music industry when work is released it is usually the case that the work is owned by the record company due to a contractual provision in the contract between the artist and the record company.

If you wish to use extracts or samples from the work of a specific artist you will be liable to pay the record company for the use of the work.

The Film Industry

In relation to the film industry licences will be provided by the following bodies for the following uses:

  • Filmbank, Motion Picture Licensing Corporation may be able to license a non-theatrical showing of a film in public in such places as clubs, coaches, restaurants, village halls and schools
  • ComPact Collections may be able to help license cable retransmission rights on behalf of producers

  • Video Performance Limited licenses certain uses of music videos

  • In all other cases it may be necessary to contact either the producers or the UK distributors to gain appropriate licensing for films.

Copyright Licensing

What is meant by a Copyright Licence?

Section 116(3) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 defines a copyright licence as a licence to do or to authorise to do any of the acts restricted to the owner of the copyright.

Collective Licensing  

The Copyright Licensing Agency is authorised by authors, artists and visual creators to issue collective licenses which allow copying from books, journals and magazines within certain limits and subject to various exclusions.

Blanket Licensing  

The Copyright Licensing Agency issues blanket licences to organisations. These licences are done on an annual basis and are subject to an annual licence fee which covers copyright throughout the year. This means that they only need to obtain the licence once yearly and they can copy as much as they wish throughout the year, subject to the terms and conditions of the licence of course.  These licences include an indemnity from the Copyright Licensing Agency for all copying done within the terms and conditions of the licence.

Licensing Schemes

The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998 provides for licensing schemes by licensing authorities of which the blanket licenses and collective licences issues by the Copyright Licensing Agency will fall within.

Under Section 117 of the Act licensing schemes enable the licensee to do the following activities:

  • Copy the work
  • Perform, play or show the work in public
  • Broadcast the work or include it in a cable programming service

Copyright Tribunal

Where an individual has applied for a copyright licence in relation to a work which is available through a copyright licensing scheme and the operator of that scheme has refused to grant him or procure him the grant of a licence or has failed to do so in a reasonable time of being asked then that person is able to apply to the copyright Tribunal.

Does my Company need a copyright Licence?

If your company or organisation copies, prints or distributes entire or parts of work which are accorded copyright protection without the direct permission from the copyright owner then you will be breaking the law.

The Copyright Licensing Agency provides free online risk assessments which it is recommended you undertake if you believe yourself or your undertaking to be breaching copyright