Copyright – Going CLA Free

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) licence provides blanket permissions to copy and reuse content from print and digital publications of authors and publishers who have registered with them. The annual fee for the licence can run into the tens of thousands (depending on the size of the college).

In 2016, Dundee & Angus College decided to drop their CLA licence and rely on openly available content and legal ‘exceptions’ to access copyrighted material. The move was supported by an active campaign to inform staff and students, as well as bespoke digital training resources.

The College saved £35,000 in licence fees.

In 2017, Borders College and one other Scottish college took the decision to drop the CLA licence with more are set to follow. CDN hosted the ‘Drop the Dead Licence’* event to share colleges’ experiences with the sector and to make available resources to support those considering the move to a CLA-free future.


Going CLA Free: D&A College’s Journey: Sam Stirling, Dundee & Angus College


Dropping the CLA Licence: Jamie McIntryre, Borders College.



*Our title is a reference to the Channel 4 sitcom ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’, it’s not to suggest that the CLA licence is a donkey (or dead), rather a humorous reference to something that is discarded, having been deemed not to be newsworthy (or necessary) at the last moment.

**This is a work in progress; we’ve created the initial version in Storyline because the original module was developed on that platform. Going forward, we would like to develop the next version in an open source authoring platform that is mobile friendly (i.e. with a responsive design). To that end, we would be more than happy if you could give us some feedback on this version, so that we can incorporate the changes into the next version.

Email any feedback/suggestions to

Just to let you know, we are currently planning to update a couple of the ‘Test your knowledge’ questions (‘NLA Media Access’ and ‘Creative Commons’) in the current version, available in the v0.2 release.