This summer saw the publication of the research report, Understanding the value of the CLA Licence to UK higher educationPublished by the Universities UK / Guild HE Copyright Negotiation and Advisory Committee (CNAC), this work was supported by RLUK, along with SCONUL and Jisc Collections. The report provides an overview of the current use of the CLA license by higher-eduction institutions and makes a series of recommendations for the project partners and wider community.

Key findings include:

UK Law and the International Comparison

  • Changes made to UK copyright law in 2014 following the Hargreaves review have not shifted perceptions of the value of the CLA Licence, which is still used to provide students with access to copies of course readings.
  • A comparison of the Licence with other countries’ educational copying regimes exposes tensions in global copyright between private and public interests. There are cultural, economic and legal reasons why regimes differ and although the UK exceptions-backed licensing model has critics, it is generally is supported by institutions who often bear the costs centrally, rather than from library budgets.

What is being scanned?

  • The volume of scanning under the Licence may be beginning to decrease, although this needs to be tracked on an ongoing basis to determine trends.
  • The Licence is currently mainly used by the sector as a way of providing students with copies of digitised extracts, largely from books. Many of these are either not currently available in electronic format, or are only available on overly restrictive licensing terms.
  • The Licence has limited relevance when providing access to journal articles, which are largely available through subscriptions or increasingly under open access models.
  • The sharing provision under the Licence (this allows licensed institutions to share scanned content) is largely unused, either for practical reasons or because there is little overlap in demand for titles.
  • Even though there is minimal overlap in titles being scanned, a number of frequently scanned titles are being used under the Licence by multiple HEIs because they are not available in electronic format.

Comparison of Institutions’ use of the Licence

  • Patterns of scanning suggest that a small number of institutions make extensive use of the Licence. 51% of all scans are undertaken by the top 20 institutions. Those 20 institutions have 22% of all FTES reported in 2016/17 and are in the main larger well-funded Russell Group universities.
  • The patterns of scanning suggest a large number of institutions make a limited use of the CLA Licence, with 133 institutions reporting less than 500 scans per year in 2017-18.
  • There is no clear link between institutions’ use of the Licence and their overall spend on information provision.

Impact of Open Access

  • Open access has yet to impact significantly on the way the CLA Licence is used in institutions despite this research finding that 38% of journal content copied under the CLA Licence for teaching is also openly available. This may be because institutions face challenges identifying legitimate open access material with clear reuse terms that can be used for teaching.
  • 60% of sample titles scanned were written by UK academics which is relevant when considering national policy on open access monographs and textbooks.

The findings and recommendations of the report were discussed at the Winter 2019 meeting of the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance, of which RLUK is a member, and further discussions will occur regarding how RLUK can best support members in their continued use of the license.

Read the full report: CNAC Research Project Report