5th October 2018
Tom Mcgrath

The what, when and how of content licensing for media monitoring

As Signal Media’s Head of Data, it’s my job to understand our clients’ data requirements and ensure Signal has the correct information to enable them to succeed. I’m also our resident content expert, and I’m often asked by colleagues on behalf of existing and prospective clients to explain the rules and requirements on licensing. Based on the frequency and nature of these questions, content licensing is an area that many people are concerned about and fearful of getting wrong. This blog post is intended to give a short overview of how content licensing works when using a media monitoring service, including examples of some of the licensing bodies in the UK. I hope you find it useful and informative.

What is licensing?

All content is subject to copyright, meaning that the creator or owner of the original content has certain rights over how their material is used, shared or reproduced. This has certain implications for how businesses receive and use media. Importantly, these businesses are often required to hold licenses that allow them certain privileges regarding that content.

Which content is licensable?

This is a common question, and the answer changes regularly. While all content is protected by copyright, in many cases the creator or owner opts not to require users to hold any license to use their content. In other cases, the copyright holder insists that any use of their content is permissioned, and this usually involves them receiving some payment. The licensing bodies typically maintain databases of the sources they cover, which anyone can check.

Signal monitors the changes in licensing, and works with licensing bodies to ensure that clients only receive the content they want, and for which they are licensed. Our clients are protected and can use and distribute content as they require with minimal hassle.

Content that does not require a license is made available to all Signal users. Signal segments and labels content by the licenses required. Our account managers and customer support team work with clients to ensure they have the right licenses in place to receive the content they need.

Do I need a license?

This entirely depends on you and your company’s requirements. But in the majority of cases, if you want to monitor a publication that’s represented by a licensing body, you’ll need to buy the appropriate license.

Many publications also license their content through aggregators such as Factiva or LexisNexis, both of which are available via Signal. Depending on your requirements, this might be an alternative method of monitoring these titles. If you’d like more information on this, please speak to one of our commercial team.

Organisations with a single user and recipient of content via Signal may be covered by our license. If you’d like more information on this, please get in touch with us.

What licenses are there?

Content is licensed through a number of bodies. In the UK the most common of which are the NLA and CLA.

NLA – The NLA represents most of the newspaper publishers in the UK as well as many magazines and trade publications. A license is required for those users in the UK wishing to monitor these titles both in print and online. For more information on the publications covered, and the options for licensing, please refer to the NLA’s website.

CLA – The CLA represents a large number of trade and consumer publications. A license is required for all users in the UK wishing to monitor these titles. Currently Signal offers CLA titles that are available online, and not in print. For more information on the publications covered, and the options for licensing, please refer to the CLA’s website.

Signal has access to approx. three million sources of content and information from over 100 countries in 50 languages, including websites, print publications and TV and radio stations. Our AI-powered media monitoring, reputation management and market intelligence platform allows quick and easy access to all these content sets. Request a demo to see how we can provide you with hassle-free media monitoring.


Please note: this blog post provides a general overview of licensing as it applies to companies receiving media monitoring services. If you are unsure what license you require for other use cases, please speak directly with the appropriate licensing body or a copyright expert.