The Publishers Licensing Society is run by the publishing industry, for the publishing industry, to support publishers in rights management. They are sponsors of BookMachine London with Eric Huang on 25th September. I met with CEO Sarah Faulder to find more about their work.
1. How does PLS support publishers?
We make sure that publishers are rewarded low-level copying of their work, and more importantly, that they are paid at the point that their material is copied. Our team work with publishers, with the aim of advancing their interests through protecting and strengthening the copyright framework.
2. What do you do when you start working with a publisher?
We are already working with over 3,000 publishers across the UK, of all sizes. We invite publishers to sign up with us, which involves signing a simple form. This then authorises us to license material on their behalf, as a secondary revenue stream to complement the publishers’ existing business model, and ensures the money gets paid back to them. Mandating publishers get access to our online account system, PLSe, where they can track what is happening to each of their titles. In 2012 we distributed £33.5 million to publishers – it pays to get a mandate!
3. How did the PLS develop?
The PLS has been in operation for over 30 years. It is a not-for-profit organisation, owned by the Publishers Association, PPA and ALPSP, meaning it was set up by the industry, for the industry. It started in the 1970s then photocopying infringement was rife, and publishers had little control over their printed content.
4. How did you come to work for the PLS?
My background is as a copyright lawyer, and I used to run the Music Publishers Association. As you can imagine, rights were a central theme there. I then worked for the Collecting Society; which is an umbrella organisation for the music industries. When the opportunity came up to apply my skills to the PLS, and help publishers to protect what is rightly their’s, I jumped at the chance.
5. In your opinion, what are the main differences between the music industry and the publishing industry, from a copyright perspective?
Firstly, the culture is different. There are overlaps in the issues which the two industries face; the publishing industry has also had to face up to the challenges of the online environment – but they’ve had a lot more time to do it in. The iPod culture moved so quickly, and once Napster launched piracy was everywhere. People don’t get the kind of instant gratification from a book that they do from music, it has given book publishers a bit more time.
6. What is next for PLS?
We are well positioned to now broaden the services we offer to publishers, and are interested in speaking to publishers who might find our central rights database more cost effective than their own channels. Our new platform that we are piloting, PLSclear, will channel permission requests through to the publisher, and help to license content on a more efficient basis. We see this being of interest to many trade publishers we work with.