March distribution 2022: your questions answered

Here we answer our members' top distribution questions.

We’re proud to announce that we’ve paid over 98,000 members a share of a record £26.8million. We’ve scoured Twitter, members’ emails and queries and have some information we think you’ll find really interesting, if not useful.

How does the ‘magic money tree’ actually work?
The short answer is – there is no short answer! It works differently for different types of works (books, scripts, articles, visual contributions). We know that in the UK and around the world, organisations such as schools, universities, TV cable channels and other businesses, want to re-use UK works and need permission to do so. So for each work type, we work with our partners to license your works. Through this we collect money from a myriad of different sources which come together to make up your payments. Some of the bigger sources are: copying income from CLA, overseas cable retransmission and overseas PLR.

The money doesn’t actually appear by magic: it derives from your rights as writers. A tree is a good analogy, though in our case it works in reverse. The branches can be considered a source of income, and the trunk is the payment that reaches our members.

Are ALCS and PLR one and the same?
No. PLR stands for Public Lending Right and is a separate fund of money that is paid to authors when their books are borrowed from UK libraries. It is administered by the British Library. At ALCS, we collect PLR from overseas libraries – just to complicate things! 

I’m a new member. When will I get paid?
It’s important to remember that payments aren’t guaranteed for every member and that they can fluctuate from year to year. We carry out two distributions annually, in March and September. If you’ve just signed up, make sure your works are up to date before September, and that you’ve given us your bank account details so that we can pay you, for when you may be eligible for payment.

Are payments backdated?
This depends on the work type. If we have collected money for an author for the use of an eligible Book or Script, then we’ll hold on to this money for at least three years.  During this time we undertake research to locate the author and encourage them to join if they are not already a member.  We also have Articles and Visual Contributions claims-based schemes, so the money isn’t ‘backdated’ as such. Under our schemes, each year members are able to claim for their articles published in the last three years as well as for their visual contributions in eligible publications published at any time.

I haven’t been paid. Why?
Payments aren’t guaranteed. We receive different income streams from various sources throughout the year, so it’s possible you may receive a payment in our September distribution instead. Make sure your account is up to date with your works and bank account details and check again at the time of the next distribution.

I’m a journalist. How do I know about the copyright status of an article?
If you’re not sure, you’ll need to check with the publisher and ask if you’re able to claim from ALCS for the work. Some contracts may have a waiver, so it’s better to check with the publisher before claiming.

Can I join if I live outside the UK?
Yes you can, although we do recommend checking that you don’t have an equivalent organisation more local to join. We have reciprocal agreements with 55 countries around the world. Contact us to find out more.

How do I access my statement?
Log in to your online account. If you’re due a payment in this distribution, you’ll find a statement in your account in the folder marked ‘2021–2022’ . You can either download it or click to have it emailed to you as a PDF.

Your statement will include a list of sources against each payment. Find out where the money’s come from with the 2022 March Distribution sources guide. Find out more on our statement information page on our website.

Still have a question? Read our FAQs.