It's for you-hoo. . .

EARLIER THIS YEAR, 120 NUJ freelances were paid £26,000--money collected from photocopying licenses. They each received between £12 and £4818. Another payment is due shortly to some of those NUJ members who have taken out associate membership of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

If you haven't joined already, here is another chance. You should find an application form for free associate membership with this Freelance.

So far, 700 NUJ freelances have joined ALCS, which means that 4800 NUJ freelances have not joined. That is a pity, because ALCS is working hard to develop and improve their services for journalists in the world of copyright.

Last year, the NUJ and ALCS agreed to co-operate in defence of journalists' intellectual property rights, extending to journalists the same benefits enjoyed by authors and TV and radio writers. The agreement has already produced tangible benefits for some NUJ members.

ALCS was created in 1977 by authors Brigid Brophy and Maureen Duffy. It is a not-for-profit organisation, established to help writers through the protection and exploitation of collective and secondary rights. It now has a database of 35,000 writers, and last year it distributed £9.2 million to members.

Despite its success, and the fact that copyright is increasingly seen as a defining issue in the digital information era, there is still much confusion about what ALCS does. ALCS seeks to safeguard journalists' copyright interests and maximise their income from re-uses of their work. It sets about this in a number of ways:

  • targeting payments for secondary rights in all journalists' markets (for example, levies from Denmark and Germany where legislation mandates payments for contributions to magazines and newspapers);
  • seeking to persuade news and magazine proprietors to share profits from secondary print and electronic syndication with writers;
  • seeking specifically to persuade proprietors that when a journalists submits work, he or she is signing only a licence for first British serial rights, not assigning copyright.
  • negotiating with the News-paper Licensing Agency for an equitable share of income from photocopy use of UK newspapers, to be distributed to freelance journalists.

Alongside these core activities, ALCS keeps a watching brief on all matters affecting copyright both in Britain and abroad. It is a leading resource and authority on intellectual property rights and writers' collective interests. With the present globalisation of all creators' work, and the proliferation of media through which journalists' work can be distributed, its role will be increasingly important. In the digital information era, there have already been irresistible developments in the fields of licensing and copyright which can and should benefit journalists. Future activities of ALCS's Journalists' Unit include, in January 1998, a live trial of project for the licensing of electronic versions of journalists' work--of which more in the next Freelance.

ALCS does not promise to shell out to everyone who joins --but if you don't register ALCS cannot identify you on its database, and you have no chance of receiving a payment from the photocopying of your work. If you have already registered as an associate member of ALCS, fine. If you overlooked the application form last time, register now. Help ALCS safeguard your rights and future income.

Sep/Oct 1997

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