Money for old rope?
IT'S NOT something for nothing, but it almost feels that good. At the end of March hundreds of freelance journalists got cheques or BACS payments from the ALCS (Authors' Licensing and collecting Society) and DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society) - annual accrued royalties for photocopying of their work in the whole round copyrighted world.
Writers' payments ranged from £10 to £1000. (DACS figures are not yet
available, but will be reported later).
All it takes to become eligible is sending an SAE to the NUJ
freelance office for registration forms. Membership is free to NUJ members and we also pay lower commission rates. These collecting societies are non-profit-making and, under different headings, their commission ranges from 7.5% to 17.5% plus VAT.
After joining it's just a matter, initially, of a couple of hours cataloguing the work you've had published - and, crucially, on which you retained copyright - since January 1, 1997. That was the date when time began in this field because before that there was no agreement on collection between the societies and the publishers. That done, you can supply updates monthly or whenever you choose (or, equally, withdraw your work from the system if you wish).
The happy outcome is another hard-cash reminder of why it's worth our while battling away to keep our copyright despite media corporations' keenness to snatch it away - and also the more quirky thrill of pondering the tenuous international connections represented by itemised accounts which, for example, informed your reporter of 68p received from Sweden and £2.27 from Canada.
ALCS says that of its present traditionally book-based £10m-plus annual income, newspaper and magazine revenue is now up to about £225,000. Payments to freelances in the immediate future will be boosted by a backlog of receipts they are working through which goes back to January 2000.
- Also get the DACS registration form to opt out of licensing the collection
of certain "secondary rights" to DACS, if that's what you want to do.