Where the money comes from


We collect two main types of income for writers of, or contributors, to books:

1.    Photocopying, scanning and the digital reuse of electronic and online publications

This income is from licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), originally set up by ALCS and the Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS) to license reproduction rights on behalf of its member organisations. The CLA offers a number of licensing options for businesses, educational institutions and government agencies to ensure writers are paid fairly when their works are copied or scanned.

2.    Overseas Public Lending Right (PLR)

Public Lending Right (PLR) schemes are typically set up to pay authors when libraries lend their books (to compensate them for the lack of sales). But not all PLR schemes are run in the same way as in the UK. German PLR payments, for example, are based on information about the author’s name (rather than the book titles that are borrowed) and French PLR payments are based on a system that monitors which books the libraries are buying (not lending out).

Are you signed up for UK PLR? If not, do it now www.bl.uk/plr

Other smaller income sources for book writers and contributors include:

  • overseas income for the reading of extracts of literary works on radio and TV, and the rental of audiobooks and other schemes for allowing accessible copies of works (known as ‘small literary rights’)
  • payments to book authors when their works are adapted into scripts.


There are several sources of income for scriptwriters:

1.   Retransmission of all types of scripted works broadcast on TV and radio

This is the simultaneous showing of one country’s broadcasting in another country through a cable network. We receive fees for the cable transmission of British programmes and we distribute these to the writers concerned.

2.   Educational recording

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 gave schools, colleges and other educational establishments the right to record any radio or TV broadcast for educational purposes without infringing copyright. The Educational Recording Agency (ERA), which was established in 1989, licenses this activity and collects fees to compensate the authors and other owners of rights in the broadcast works. We’re responsible for paying writers their share of these fees.

3.   Private copying

In most European countries, a levy is charged on the sale of recording and copying equipment. This is usually referred to as a private copying levy and is intended to compensate rights owners for the reuse of their works. We claim fees on behalf of UK writers from the various private copying levies in Europe. Other smaller income sources for scriptwriters include schemes operating in overseas territories for the public broadcast of works and the rental of audiovisual works.


As with books, money for articles also comes from the photocopying, scanning and digital reuse of electronic and online publications.

Watch our animation showing where the money comes from


Details of all the overseas sources of income ALCS collects Download