LAW firms are to be offered easier access to copyrighted material under plans being developed by the Law Society.
Officials are negotiating with the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) for an agreement which would allow firms to copy material more freely.
In a separate move, Eversheds has become the first major law firm to gain a CLA license. The deal allows the firm's staff to reproduce books and other published material without the usual time-consuming approaches to the copyright owners.
Instead, the firm will pay the CLA – which represents owners of the copyright – for access under pre-arranged terms.
Mark Dillon, national director of administration at Eversheds, said: “The licence and rapid clearance process which we now have in place satisfies both our needs and those of the copyright owners.”
Eversheds' agreement follows a programme in which the CLA wrote to 500 leading firms with details of its business licensing service.
Roger Bull, CLA business licensing officer, said talks had been taking place with the Law Society for about a year on the wider service for practices.
Charles Maggs, secretary of the society's consumer and commercial law committee, said the talks aimed for a deal allowing firms to pay a year's subscription. The fee would vary according to the size of the firm, the number of partners and the amount of copying.