Special Contributors Scheme

As set out in NLA’s Membership Rules, Publishers directly represented by NLA undertake that they ‘own and/or control such rights as may be required to enable inclusion of their content in applicable NLA licences’. The terms of NLA’s ‘Publisher Mandate’ include that NLA is granted the rights to license the copying of all content in their publications and websites. Publishers represented by NLA therefore generally have standard rights management processes in place to clear the necessary rights for inclusion of third party content in NLA licences at the point of commission.

Notwithstanding this, it is acknowledged that there may be instances where the publisher has not acquired the necessary rights in third party content. To provide for this, NLA operates a survey (the ‘Special Contributors’ Scheme (‘SCS’)), with the aim of identifying whether any of the publishers content is uncleared, and if so, what proportion of the revenue received from NLA is attributable to the licensing of such content. The rules for the SCS (as approved by the NLA Board) are set out in the Publisher Mandate.

The NLA Board includes a ‘Special Contributors Director’ to oversee the interests of freelance and agency contributors. This role is currently held by Alan Geere. Magazine publishers represented by NLA through PLS are subject to the separate ‘Right Valuation’ arrangements operated by PLS (see PLS Distribution Charter for further details).

The Survey – Overview

The majority of copying by NLA licensees is for daily media monitoring reports/press packs. Typically, a small percentage of a publication or website is copied – predominantly business and news articles that reference companies and brand names.
The mechanics of the current SCS survey (as run by NLA over the past 20+ years) are as follows:

  • NLA collects data from 2 largest MMOs for all articles copied by them over a specified week from selected newspapers and websites
  • Participating Publishers are required to categorise the articles to confirm the source (e.g. whether from an employee, a news agency or a freelancer), and rights status of the article (i.e. whether cleared or uncleared)
  • The completed survey data are analysed by an independent surveyor, (the Audit Bureau of Circulations), to produce a % of copied content to which the publisher does not own the rights
  • The publisher is required to set aside an equivalent percentage of the revenues received from NLA over the period covered by the survey for payment to uncleared contributors.
  • Any ‘orphan funds’ are paid to the Journalists’ Charity.

2016 Survey

NLA conducted a survey in 2016 covering royalties paid in the years 2014-15;

Titles Surveyed


(Print and web)

All titles covered


(Print and web)

Items categorised


(Text and photos)

Revenue 2014-15


(Of Participating Publishers)

Attributable Revenue to third party contributors


Paid to contributers


Paid to Charity


(‘Orphan funds’ paid to Journalists’ Charity)

Total % attributable to third party contributors


(Of Participating Publisher Revenue)

The following publishers participated in the survey:

  • Archant
  • DMGT
  • CityAM
  • DC Thompson
  • Financial Times
  • Guardian
  • Independent News & Media
  • ESI Media
  • Johnston Press
  • Midland News Association
  • Reach PLC
  • News UK
  • Newsquest
  • Scottish Provincial Press
  • Telegraph
  • Tindle

2014 Survey

The results for the survey conducted in 2014, for comparison, were:

Titles Surveyed

(Print and web)

All titles covered

(Print and web)

Items Categorised

(Text and Photos)

Revenue 2011-13

(Of Participating Publishers)

Revenue Attributable to third party Contributors
£642, 600
Paid to Contributers

Paid to Charity

( Journalists’ Charity )

Total % Attributable to third party Contributors

Of Participating Publishers Revenue

(Publishers participating in the 2014 survey were:

Express Newspapers; Financial Times; Mirror Group; News UK; Aberdeen Journals, CN Group; City AM; Clyde & Forth; Express & Star; Independent News & Media; Johnston Press; K M Group; Newsquest; Scottish Provincial; Shropshire Newspapers; Tindle; Trinity Mirror; Century Comm; D E Alexander; Heads Congleton; Hirst, Kidd, Rennie; Jewish Chronicle; NW Ireland Printing & Publishing)

In light of the 2016 survey results, which substantiate that publishers mainly own / control rights for NLA licences, NLA is now investigating alternative survey methods to reflect current publisher rights clearance procedures.

In 2016, Johnston Press payments were not made due to administration.