Wednesday 6 September 2023

Back to Basics: Resources to Support Rights Management Best Practice

By Amy Ellis, Publishers’ Licensing Services, Platinum sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

There are so many big challenges in the publishing industry at the moment, from the fast pace at which AI is changing and threatening the landscape to the transition to Open Access publishing models, that it can be easy to forget about the basics. Copyright and licensing underpin the entire publishing industry from scholarly journals to glossy B2C magazines. Good rights management and maintaining accurate records of what rights a publisher holds (and doesn’t hold) can make all the difference to being able to achieve additional revenue or exposure for authors and to being able to pivot to new licensing opportunities (such as the potential to license into AI). 

In March 2023, PLS launched the Rights Management in Publishing report which contained the results of a rights management survey of nearly 100 publishers across all publishing sectors. The survey was designed to capture the current issues facing rights professionals in publishing and what support they required to improve the way rights are managed in their organization as well as their licensing initiatives. The survey found that less than a third of the 100 publishers surveyed were very confident about the accuracy of their rights records for their titles whilst just over half said they were quite confident. This shows that while most publishers do feel confident enough in the records of what rights they hold, there are still large gaps where publishers don’t hold accurate files or databases of what rights they have to their titles. 

The report also found that 40% of publishers surveyed felt their effectiveness in rights management and licensing is restricted by insufficient resourcing or investment in systems and teams and nearly 30% of publishers felt they were held back by lack of knowledge and training in rights. 

Since its launch in 2020, PLS has been working with its Rights Group, formed of rights professionals across the industry, to create free resources to help support publishers where there are large knowledge gaps in contract information or in staff knowledge. The resources created by the PLS Rights Group have been compiled within the Rights and Licensing Hub website

The following resources in the Rights and Licensing Hub could be considered a primer on good rights management for publishers:

Copyright FAQs

PLS created a straightforward Frequently Asked Question section about copyright law and how it applies to publishers and content users in the UK. These FAQs are an essential read for new starters and a bookmarkable page for quick answers to common copyright queries.

Essential Guide to Open Access

For publishers just beginning to transition to Open Access or with new staff members coming on board, the Essential Guide to Open Access, created in consultation with Research Consulting, is an introduction to Open Access concepts with links to additional resources to find out more about what Open Access is, Creative Commons licences, Text and Data Mining, and Transformative Agreements.

Rights Management Essentials Training

PLS also launched three free training courses in 2021 on rights that were designed not just for rights professionals but also for editorial teams, those in marketing and indeed anyone working in publishing, to provide a foundation in rights management best practice. The courses include an Introduction to Rights Management, Acquiring Rights, and Licensing Rights to Others.

Additional Resources

Further resources available in the Rights and Licensing Hub include other training resources, publisher case studies, and a careers section. With so many challenges in publishing, having good knowledge of what rights you hold in your titles is essential for enabling reuse of your content, whether through new licensing opportunities or partnerships. The resources available within the Rights and Licensing Hub are designed to help publishers improve their rights management in order to maximise exposure and revenues for their content.

Publishers’ Licensing Services is a proud Platinum sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Amy Ellis is Head of Rights and Permissions at Publishers’ Licensing Services. She is responsible for the PLSclear permissions service, managing the growth of the service and ensuring the system stays in line with industry needs. She is also responsible for PLS’ rights management initiatives including the Rights and Licensing Hub and she provides support for the PLS Rights Management Group. She was included in The Bookseller’s Rising Stars in 2019 and shortlisted for London Book Fair’s Trailblazer Awards in 2020.

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