A deadline is looming for secondary image licensing

03 February 2017

Region: Headquarters

If an image of yours has been published in a book or magazine (including the RPS Journal) with an ISBN or ISSN number, or it has been included in a TV programme, then you are probably entitled to a share of a royalty pot. This is known as secondary licensing and the bodies who administer it are known as collective management organistions or CMOs.

This pot comes from money paid when someone in a library, or a school takes a photocopy or a photographic copy (and similarly for TV). If you have done this yourself you may wonder what you are paying for. Obviously some of it covers the cost of the machinery, unless you are using your own device, but some of it is a royalty payment to the copyright owner. This is why the library may charge you a different fee depending on whether the thing you are copying is old enough to be out of copyright.

Some of you may already have used a scheme adminstered by DACS called Payback. Up until now the amount of money to which you are entitled has been based on a representative sample of your published work, but the mechanism will change this year. This is because of new regulations introduced at a European level which have two significant results: the money will be based on actual works copied, and there will be a choice of organisations with whom you can register to claim.

If you are an author you may already be claiming from a similar pot administered by ALCS. Here you have to list the works (books or articles). ALCS are now also adminstering images. A new CMO called PICSEL are also working with image secondary licensing but are specialising in working with image libraries.

I should note here that you can only claim this money once (that is, only through one CMO), and if you have an agent or library you have the option to mandate them to collect it for you.

If this affects you then you need to check with the CMO you wish to work with because DACS and ALCS have deadlines of Feb 17th and Feb 10th respectively for claims. I suggest you visit the links above for an explanation. If you are already members of either you will have received an email about this.

Secondary licensing is managed by the CMOs because it is impractical for the licensing to be done individually, but the resulting fees are something you are entitled to if your work has been reproduced this way.

Andy Finney is the Society representative on the British Copyright Council