Frequently Asked Questions - Requestors

PLSclear – General introduction

What is PLSclear?

PLSclear is a web-based tool that streamlines the permissions process. If you need to seek permission to reuse someone else’s content, PLSclear can help. It solves three common problems:

  1. Identifying the current rights holder.
  2. Knowing what information to supply them with.
  3. Finding the relevant contact in the rights holding organisation.

Who is PLSclear designed for?

PLSclear is aimed at helping two main audiences:

  • Requestors seeking permission to reuse content - such as editorial teams, authors, and rights acquisition teams.
  • Rights holders granting permission to reuse content - such as publishers, owners of small publishing houses, and rights and permissions sales teams.

When do I need permission to reuse content?

If you are are using someone else’s content, you normally need their permission to do so. You need to secure permission from the copyright holder, who may be the creator or the publisher of the work. If you do not do this, the copyright holder has the legal right to ask for compensation or the removal of the content you have used.

How does PLSclear help people seeking permission?


  • Ensuring you identify the current rights holder quickly.
  • Sending your request to the correct person within the rights holding organisation.
  • Providing all the information rights holders need to process your request efficiently.
  • Enabling you to manage all your permission requests within one system.

Who supplies the service?

The tool has been developed by the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), a not-for-profit organisation owned by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP); the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG); the Professional Publishers Association (PPA); and the Publishers Association (PA). Find out more about PLS at

How to use PLSclear

How do I start using PLSclear?

  • Go to
  • Select the work you want to quote from by typing the ISSN/ISBN, title name or author name into the search bar. PLSclear will then guide you through an interactive questionnaire, enabling you to compile an effective request.
  • Once completed, this is then sent directly to the publishing contact at the relevant rights holder organisation.
  • If you have any issues with searching, just contact our helpdesk on

How long before the rights holder gets back to me?

This is up to the rights holder and response times vary. However, as the form contains all the information you need to make a request, it should speed the process up and eliminate the need for any further clarification.

How long will it take me to complete the permissions questionnaire?

The permissions questionnaire is designed to be adaptable and interactive, and is quick and easy to use. It adapts the questions depending on the reuse circumstances, so typically you answer less than 10 questions. This ensures that the right information is gathered and the process is undertaken as quickly as possible - usually less than 5 minutes.

How do I manage my requests?

  • The Request Manager dashboard lets you view and manage all the requests you have made to rights holders.
  • Get real time updates on the status of each request, the direct message function also helps you communicate directly with the rights holder to clarify or follow up any pending permissions requests.

Can I make multiple requests to different publishers for one project?

Yes. You can save the details of your project, and for subsequent requests you will be asked if you want to add the new request to a project, or you can enter details for a new use.

This will also allow you to check the progress of requests for a particular project all at once.

Help Desk

I cannot find what I am looking for - can you help?

Yes – if you have any questions, please contact a member of our team on The help service is manned Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm. Please allow up to two working days for a response.

Can you give me the email of a publisher’s permissions contact?

We do not provide email addresses of permissions contacts due to data protection regulations. However, if you have a particular issue, contact us at and we may be able to help.

If you wish to follow up on an outstanding permissions request, the new message feature within the Request Manager section of PLSclear allows you to communicate directly with the rights holder.

Can I search for a title by DOI?

PLSclear doesn’t store DOI information. When requesting permission for a journal, please search for the journal ISSN rather than the DOI.

Further Information

How many rights holders are in the PLSclear database?

Almost all of the UK’s publishers are signed up with PLS and are listed in our permissions contact database.

How accurate is PLSclear?

The PLSclear database has been extensively tested, using real-life permissions requests. It successfully identifies the current rights holder 9 times out of 10. For problematic requests, you can contact our helpdesk ( for further assistance.

Does PLSclear or PLS grant permissions on behalf of publishers?

No. PLSclear is a service that helps connect those seeking permission with the correct rights holder, who will then provide permission directly. PLS is not responsible for any permissions, fees, or time taken to grant permission.

Does PLSclear help secure permissions for newspaper content / pictures / photographs / images / music?

No. Please visit the copyrighthub for more information on these areas.

Can PLSclear help secure permission when rights have reverted to the author?

In some cases, yes. We have a partnership with ALCS (the Authors Licensing and Collecting Agency), who will search their author databases on your behalf. We also recommend you try the Watch File, which is a database of copyright contacts for writers and artists.

Can PLSclear help locate an author who has written under a pseudonym?

If the author’s title is linked with a publisher that is still in business, then it is likely that you will be able to locate the author. If the title is not linked to a publisher, it will be harder to locate the author. The Watch File may contain the information you need.

Can PLSclear help locate the estates of deceased authors where the titles are not listed in PLSclear?

No; we would recommend that in order to locate the estates of deceased authors, the Watch File is a useful resource.

Does the PLSclear database include titles published outside of the UK?

Yes, the PLSclear database does contain details of titles published outside the UK. The database has over 50 million records of English-language titles published around the world. However not all overseas permissions requests can be facilitated via PLSclear. Contact our helpdesk ( for further assistance.

Can PLSclear help secure permission when a publisher has gone out of business?

Possibly. If the publishers list was sold, you should be able to locate the current rights holder on PLSclear. If the copyright has reverted to the author, we will work with ALCS (the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society) to see whether we can forward the author's contact details to you.

Can PLSclear help secure permissions for content found on websites?

No, the simplest way of securing permission to reuse content from websites is to use the "Contact us" link that appears on most sites, and ask the publisher of the site directly.

What is covered under a CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence (and therefore might not need permission)?

The best way to determine whether reuse is covered by a CLA licence is to use their title search engine at

PLSclear Text and Data Mining function

What is Text and Data Mining?

Text and data mining is a specialist research technique undertaken by academics and researchers.
See the wikipedia page on Text and data mining for more information.

How does the PLSclear Text and Data Mining service work?

Researchers face similar problems to other potential licensees. These include finding the current rights holder, contacting the appropriate person within the right holding organisation and supplying them with the information they need to make a quick decision about how to progress the collaboration.

PLSclear TDM enables researchers to search by publisher or by DOI and includes a questionnaire developed by leading publishers within the STM sector. It is possible to upload DOIs in bulk and PLSclear will automatically route copies of the form to different publishers.

As with PLSclear, PLSclear TDM will not provide you with permission: it enables you to find the rightsholder quickly and easily, puts you in contact with them, and they will then confirm permission directly with you.

The Text and Data Mining Service can be accessed here.