Multinational Copyright License (MCL) FAQs

What is the Multinational Copyright License?

The Multinational Copyright License is an annual license from RightsDirect that allows employees to reuse and distribute copyright-protected content in print and digital format within their organization from RightsDirect’s extensive repertory of works.

How does it work?

Once your company signs an agreement for the Multinational Copyright License, all of your organization’s employees are allowed to internally use and share copyrighted content represented in RightsDirect’s repertory.

RightsDirect’s parent company, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), distributes license fees collected from licensees to participating rightsholders. This process eliminates the need for companies to obtain individual permissions from copyright holders for those types of reuse of their content covered by the License.

What does it allow me to do with copyrighted material?

See below for the types of business uses covered by the License. While most of the permitted uses are primarily around internal content sharing, there are some exceptions.

  • The Multinational Copyright License is generally intended to permit distribution of articles on a periodic, non-systematic basis to other people within an organization. It is not meant to replace subscriptions that you or other people in the organization need in the ordinary context of your work.
  • The Multinational Copyright License permits an employee of a licensed company to reuse articles and chapters covered by the license for internal use only. It is not a license to reproduce copyrighted publications in their entirety (although it does allow reproduction of entire articles or chapters within periodicals or books) or to alter or manipulate the content in any way.
  • While this License greatly facilitates copyright-compliant communications within your company, it does not permit you to sell copies or provide fee-for-service reproduction.
  • The License also does not permit distribution of content in digital form to anyone who is not an authorized person — an employee of your company or authorized consultant — except in two cases: (i) in response to government filing requirements, and then only when bearing appropriate notices, and (ii) in the case of many works in the repertory, in response to a third-party request, in which case a single electronic copy may be delivered.
  • Promotional or marketing uses are not covered under the License and require express permission from the rightsholder.
  • The Multinational Copyright License is not a license to distribute paper or digital copies in a systematic way (for example, through a clipping service or any means intended to replace an employee’s need for a subscription) or to make searchable libraries or archives of materials in order to avoid the need for subscriptions.


In brief, the Multinational Copyright License is a valuable tool as part of your corporate communications and compliance policies and can easily be used to keep your employees informed about the important things that affect your business every day. For more information, please refer to the license coverage table at the end of this document.

Does the License cover translation of articles for company use?

No. You always need to contact the rightsholder for translation rights.

Does the License allow me to store copies of articles?

The License allows storage of articles within the organization’s internal network but only for the sharing permitted by the License. In particular, storage is not allowed if it is intended to replace the company’s need to take subscriptions or make purchases of copies of the works from the rightsholders.

Can I share content outside of my organization with the License?

In general, external sharing of content is excluded under the License with the exceptions of these two cases:(i) in response to government filing requirements, and then only when bearing appropriate notices, and (ii) in the case of many works in the repertory, in response to a client request, in which case a single print or electronic copy may be delivered.

Examples of external sharing that are not covered by the License include but are not limited to:

  • The sharing of content with outside agencies
  • Content for use on a public website
  • Copies for promotional purposes

How can I obtain more rights for content reuse outside my organization?

You may use Copyright Clearance Center’s Pay-Per-Use Services at to obtain permission, or you may contact the rightsholder directly.

How do I verify that a publication is covered by my License?

Using RightFind™ Advisory (included with the Multinational Copyright License), you can quickly check permissions for specific content against the License repertory.

What if my publication is not covered by the License?

While the Multinational Copyright License covers millions of books, journals, magazines, newspapers and other works from thousands of rightsholders, you may find a piece of content that is not in the repertory. You may use Copyright Clearance Center’s Pay-Per-Use Services at to obtain permission, or you may contact the rightsholder directly.

Additionally, you may want to contact RightsDirect to request that Copyright Clearance Center work with that rightsholder to include its works in the License.

Does the MCL allow me to distribute copies internally of content from electronic materials that the company has bought or subscribed to?

In general, the answer is yes if the content is part of the License’s repertory.

There are limitations, however. For example, whether in paper or electronic form, a publication may not be copied cover-to-cover (an article or chapter is acceptable), nor may copies of articles or chapters be distributed systematically within the organization. That means that employees who have a print or electronic subscription to an information service or publication because they use it or read it regularly may not make use of their organization’s Multinational Copyright License to replace any employee’s need for a subscription.

Otherwise, however, you may circulate items of interest quite widely within your organization and be assured that your employees are operating within the bounds of copyright compliance.

Can I scan articles under the MCL?

Yes. You may convert portions of registered publications from paper to digital format when the desired work is not commercially available in electronic form.

Does license coverage extend to our foreign employees?

Yes. Under the Multinational Copyright License, employees of your organization or its subsidiaries who are located in other countries may reuse and share the materials in the same ways as the employees located at the headquarters.

Can I submit copies of articles and chapters from works in the repertory to government agencies under the MCL?

Yes. Employees may submit print or electronic copies of relevant supporting documentation for filings to government agencies.

Does it matter whether the “original” obtained by my organization came through a subscription or a copyright-cleared document delivery process?

No. The Multinational Copyright License includes rights to make certain identified uses of copies of articles which have been lawfully made by the organization or which have been lawfully obtained, whether via a direct subscription agreement with a rightsholder or purchased individually through a document delivery provider. In the latter case, once you have obtained a first ‘legal’ copy (in other words, including the one-time copyright fee) from a document delivery supplier, then you may share the article under the terms and conditions of the License.

Does my MCL cover the copyright fee charged to me by document deliverers?

No, it does not. The fee that document deliverers may charge you and call a “copyright fee” is usually intended to reimburse them for the fee that THEY presumably paid to the copyright holder for the copy that THEY made for delivery to you when you ordered. They may choose to identify and pass that fee along to you.

Although your Multinational Copyright License does not cover the original copyright fee paid or charged by the document deliverer, it does allow you to copy or digitally share the article you receive from the document deliverer, once that original copyright fee has been paid, and further distribute those copies within your organization.

How do I know if my company has the MCL?

If you’re not sure whether your organization has the Multinational Copyright License, check with your corporate library staff or corporate attorney.

Will the MCL protect my company from being sued by copyright owners for infringement of their works?

Yes, the License provides protection against suit for any use of copyrighted works in the repertory that is within the scope of the License. Further, upon payment for your first license renewal, the rightsholders participating in the License automatically waive any and all unasserted prior claims for copyright infringement of works falling within the scope of the rights granted under the license.

How is my license fee determined?

Generally speaking, the Multinational Copyright License fee is determined by multiplying a per-employee fee for your organization’s industry to the organization’s total number of employees. Over its 30 years of operation, RightsDirect’s parent organization, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), has collected extensive amounts of data through surveys of content use activities and it uses that data to determine both content use projections for an industry type and annual license fees, as well as for allocating license fees among the rightsholders who participate in the License.

What are digital responsive rights?

Digital responsive rights allow you to share single electronic copies of a particular article with a customer or prospect in response to a request. Responsive rights relating to the publications of German publishers and select international publishers are included in your annual license at no additional cost. Please consult RightFind Advisor for details on specific publications.

Permission Grid

Permission License Coverage
Share digital or printed content internally with co-workers via e-mail, intranet, posting, PDF or fax Included
Save to corporate-owned drive or network drive Included
Store articles for records, projects and/or publication literature databases Included
Photocopy from a newspaper, magazine, book, journal, research report, or other published material Included
Share digital content internally via collaboration applications such as IBM Notes or MS SharePoint Included
Share photocopied content internally with co-workers Included
Scan printed work into digital form when an electronic version of the work is not readily available Included
Print out web-based or other digital content onto paper or overhead slides Included
Use published content (including e-books and blogs) in a slide presentation or CD-ROM to an internal audience Included
Provide a single, responsive digital or print copy of an article to a customer or prospect upon request Included
Submit photocopied and digial copies of articles to government agencies for regulatory filings Included


The MCL is generally intended to permit distribution of articles on a periodic, non-systematic basis to other people within an organization. It is not meant to replace subscriptions that you or other people in the organization need in the ordinary context of your work. The license also does not cover the external display of copies on mobile devices as part of the user’s systematic sales or marketing activities. The above chart only applies to works in the License repertory.