Collecting Societies

‘Collecting societies’ collect payment for the use of copyright materials such as television programmes or books and in turn distribute this revenue back to the programme makers or authors they represent.

BRAND NEW Smile  Copyrightandschools website to help work out what licences schools need.  

‘Blanket licences’ are used by collecting societies to provide general permissions or consents covering a period of time for the use of a type of media. The CLA licence covers schools for print and digital reproduction of text and still images from  books,magazines, periodicals and journals, as well as 'opted-in' digital material like websites and shares the revenues collected between publishers, authors and visual artists.  The ERA licence covers schools for copying most programmes broadcast in the UK and re-distributes the revenue collected to the programme makers and contributors.

The definitions applied to the terms ‘curricular’, ‘non-curricular’ and ‘public’ are more restricted than their everyday use in schools. ‘The Public’ can mean events in school if anyone other than those immediately responsible for teaching or care are present and that includes an assembly with parents or pupils from another school being present.  The term ‘curricular’ is applied to curriculum subjects and may not cover school activities such as clubs or other social education. The term 'non-curricular' is applied to activities like clubs and lunchtime activities.

Licence purchase. Licences can be purchased through agreements with: 

  • national Departments of Education
  • Local Authorities
  • through an interemediary service such as CEFM
  • or a school may purchase Licences on its own behalf

CLA agreements. In England, all state-maintained schools are covered by the CLA Licence and the Schools Printed Music Licence via an agreement with the Department for Education, and in Northern Ireland through a similar agreement with the Belfast Education and Library Board. In Scotland and Wales, state-maintained schools are licensed through their Local Authority. Both licences for independent schools can be arranged through the Independent Association of Prep Schools and, in Scotland, SCIS.

The CEFM manages three licences for schools:

  • PRS for Music (in respect of the composers/writers of the music),
  • PPL(in respect of the singer/makers of the pre-recorded music)
  • PVS licence (in respect of film distributors).

The PRS for Music and PPL licences can cover “public performances” and “non-curricular activity” including playing to parents and friends. The PVS licence covers children and teachers and is often used for film-clubs. The PRS for Music and PPL licences work together for many activities and most schools now have the CEFM (PRS for Music and PPL) blanket licence in place but the PVSL is more commonly purchased by a school for a particular need such as screening a film as an event or for an after-school film club.

The proliferation of new technologies has seen an increase in the number of additional licences needed to deal with the different channels for publishing to, sharing amongst or communicating with an audience. To work out which licence you need you may need to know:

  • What the copyright materials are?
  • The (digital) form they are in?
  • Where they will be stored?
  • How they will be made available to the audience? (website, podcast, online radio, live event, DVD, etc. etc.)
  • Who and where the audience is?
  • And sometimes for how long they will be made available?
  • In terms of image licences it may even matter if it’s on the home page (higher cost) or on a subsidiary page (lower charge)
  • If there is any commercial element

A look at the variety of on-line licences there are available through the PRS for music’ website indicates the need for careful appraisal of your needs and good information.

Established licences such as ‘ERA’ and ‘CLA’ have extended their services to keep up with digital developments. For instance ‘ERA’ introduced ‘ERA Plus Licence’ to enable  recorded programmes to be used for ‘distance learning’ by teachers and pupils - through a VLE or at home for instance - and ‘CLA’ includes copying from digital originals by including scanning, emailing, or posting content on a VLE, in addition to photo-copying and the licence covers published formats such as websites, e-books and CDs produced by  the publishers it represents. ERA licences are relevant to some new applications, such as those enabling video streaming across the school network, that are available to schools

List of UK Licensing organisations

To understand the exact nature of each licence and its latest news it is best to go direct to the organisation website.

:: CLA or the Copyright Licensing Agency covers print and digital reproduction of text and still images – ‘all’ schools have the licence. It covers books,magazines, periodicals and journals, as well as 'opted-in' digital material like websites - i.e. websites of those companies, including many education publishers who have 'opted-in' to the CLA scheme. There is a full description of the current licence at

:: ERA or the Educational Recording Agency licences off-air educational copying of broadcast material and most schools/LAs have licences in place. The main ERA Licence requires  acknowledgement and labelling for the hard copies that are made on tape or DVD. Satellite broadcasts may be recorded either because their programmes fall under the ERA Licence or because they are covered by CDPA 'exceptions'. There is a full description of the Licence with a good FAQ section on the ERA website at Details of the ERA Plus Licence can also be found on this website

:: CEFM or the Centre for Education & Finance Management is the collection agent in the UK schools sector for PRS for music (music performance), PPL (pre-recorded music), and PVSL(film screening) licences for schools. Both PRS and PPL licences are required for playing pre-recorded music in a school. Additional licences are required to electronically transfer music to another school, across an intranet or through the WWW and across intranets. For more information see

:: PRS or the Performing Rights Society: The PRS for Music licences the public performance of music and safeguards the rights of composers, songwriters and publishers. A PRS licence is required for the “non-curricular”use of copyrighted music. The licence covers such activity as discos and end-of-term parties, playing radios/tapes/CDs and telephone on-hold music. The PRS for Music Licence covers playing TV or radio “out loud” for non-curricular purposes. There is a good section on music copyright on the PRS website, PRS for Music is managed for schools by CEFM - and the CEFM helpline is 01494 473014 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

:: PPL or Phonographic Performance Limited: A PPL licence in conjunction with the PRS for Music licence is for the use of ‘copyrighted pre-recorded music’ - on any format; CD, tapes, disc - and safeguards the rights of recording companies. performers and musicians. It is now managed for schools by CEFM and the CEFM helpline is 01494 836233 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

:: PVS or Public Video Screening licence is required if you want to show films – video or DVD; owned, borrowed or rented - “for non-curricular use”- to an audience of teachers and students; it does not cover parents or pupils from another school. The PVS licence is operated by Filmbank on behalf major film distributors from Hollywood, Bollywood and the independent sector – their website contains a full list. The DCSF initiative Filmclub includes a PVS licence if the school does not already have one. If you charge for entry or have a commercial activity around the screening you require a Single Title Licence from Filmbank. The schools PVSL licence is available from CEFM PVSL and the CEFM helpline is 01494 836231 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

:: MPLC or the Motion Picture Licensing Company. The MPLC Umbrella Licence is held by the majority of schools. It solely protects the rights of the over 400 independent film studios, specialist educational and TV producers in the same way as the PVS protects the rights of the major Hollywood studios and some Bollywood and the independents. This includes all pre-recorded formats (video/DVD/BluRay/downloads) whether rented or purchased or down-loaded from the internet “for non-curricular use”. There is no overlap or duplication between the MPLC and PVS, ERA or any other licence the school may hold. The MPLC Umbrella Licence for Schools is available direct from the Motion Picture Licensing Company 01323 649647 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For Independent Schools in England & Wales MPLC have a partnership with The Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) who administer the issuing the MPLC Umbrella Licence. Further details on this can be found at:

:: On-line licences: A PRS online licence and a PPL online licence may be required if you, for instance, put pre-recorded music on-line in a website – even if it is within a film. The key point is that it is the organisation hosting the materials who need to apply to PRS Some major social networking sites and some education services already have the PRS online licence in place and in that case the school shouldn’t need to get one itself.

On-line licencing is an outcome of the digital revolution and is still in its early days buit as schools increasingly use ICT in more sophisticated ways to communicate beyond the school the more on-line licencing will need to be considered.

:: MPA: The Music Publishers Association for permission to photocopy sheet music outside the terms of the SPML. Plays or musicals such as ‘Joseph’ or ‘Grease’ are owned by music companies and a school has to contact them directly to arrange a performing licence; MPA can help locate the company.

:: PMLL: The Printed Music Licensing Ltd, the licensing arm of the MPA that provides the Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML). It is available exclusively through CLA and covers schools to copy, in most cases, entire works of their printed sheet music.

:: MCPS: The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (Mechanical as in old days of making records) …but now meaning recording performance onto CD or DVD. As with PRS schools will need to consider this in the future if they want to make DVDs of the school play to sell to parents or, perhaps, enter digital work into an Arts Festival.

:: CCLI: Christian Copyright Licencing Ltd. Licences music for collective worship, carol concerts, etc. /

:: DACS: Design and Artist Copyright Society for artists, designers. It covers a lot of the images released for reviews, etc for big exhibitions. The website has a good introductory section about 'copyright'.

:: NLA : the newspaper licensing agency for copying from newspapers.

The Newspaper Licensing Agency provides licences and services to the commercial and public sector for both print and e-publishing.  It represents most national and over a 100 regional newpapers in the UK. It has a no-charge school sector service ‘Newspapers for Schools’, which provides "copyright compliant" use of newspapers through:

  • News Library: a searchable database of 9 million articles from 140 UK newspapers covering 2006 onwards. The articles or pages are downloaded for use as come as pdf files.
  • NLA newspaper copying licence:Make ‘legal’ photocopies from newspapers that have been purchased for teaching and learning. (note: the CLA licence does not cover newspapers.)

Newspapers for Schools is a free service; schools register and provide feedback on the use of the service.


:: OS: ordnance survey. The OS provides a very wide range of maps and mapping services. Most Local Authorities in the UK have Map Service Agreement (MSA) licences for the use of maps in school and their other services such as Libraries. Sometimes the maps and map data are made available through a GIS’ or“graphic information systems” service.

For more information about OS education services

There are links to other OS services such as OS and GIS services, Local Authority Licences and free outline maps of UK counties

Some OS map data is freely available as part of the UK government’s ‘Open Data’ initiative. although users will still need an application to access and use the data.

Maps from other sources than the OS in the UK or from other countries have their own copyrights and sometimes licence arrangements.


:: UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) maintains a page listing links to Organisations representing copyright owners at

:: Copyright and Schools is a working group comprising members from various Collecting Societies (or CMOs) that operate in the schools sector. Their website is designed to help school staff who wish to use copyright content for school activities, providing information about what content is covered under each licence and guidance on where to go for specific information.

There are licencing organisations in many other countries working in similar ways to those in the UK. There are sometimes reciprocal arrangements between licensing organisations in different countries to support global publishing, performance and re-use of materials.