Reuse And Copying Is More Common Than You Think
For many of us commissioned to write a piece, we are agreeing for it to be published in a specific title. This might be in the form of a printed article, online copy, book, or script. Sometimes, we may even offer ‘second rights’ to another title, a certain number of weeks after the original has been published – and see our work published once again to suit another readership. But, in both of these cases we have agreed the specific titles and fee.
While we might be paid for those commissions, what we don’t always think about is that our work is now available in the public domain – and can be replicated or reused throughout the world. While we’d like to think anyone copying our work would be professional enough to ask permission, this isn’t always the case.
This is where ALCS comes in. Their work “involves situations where a third party uses a work that’s already been distributed to the public – such as when schools photocopy books they own, or libraries lend books, or overseas TV companies retransmit UK TV signals.”
You might not even realise your work has been used again, and it’s a much more common occurrence than you think, especially in our global, online world. This year alone, ALCS say they’ve paid out £36.8 million to writers. The good news is there’s no need for additional invoice chasing either – they’ll do all the chasing for you, to see where your work has ended up and how it’s been used. Essentially, if you write for money you should strongly consider becoming a member of ALCS.
ALCS say that “members often proclaim that we give them “free money”. While this sounds like a dream come true, it’s not accurate.” Rather, the organisation points out, “the money we pay out is money you are owed as a writer for uses of your works – uses are things like photocopying and scanning and digital reuse. It’s money that you can’t keep track of but we can. However, you have to be a member to get paid! Sign up to ALCS and keep your account up to date with your latest works – that way, when our distribution dates come around, you’ll have done everything you need to ensure you receive what you are owed.”