Owen Atkinson retires

Long-serving ALCS Chief Executive Owen Atkinson has announced his retirement after representing authors’ rights for 25 years.

Owen started at the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) back in 1997 as the IT manager. As Chief Executive, he has expanded the organisation’s annual payments to members from £17.9m per year to £41m to members in 2021/22, with payments to date now totalling £600m overall. With Owen at the helm, the ALCS membership has also more than doubled, from 52,000 to over 117,000 members in the UK and across the world.


Owen said: “It has been a great privilege to work at ALCS. Collecting money for authors, fighting for their rights and being the organisation to pay them what they’re due is a unique job to carry out, and I’ve done so alongside so many colleagues who are passionate about making a real difference to the lives of authors over the years. I’m leaving ALCS in a really strong position, and in very safe hands.”


Under Owen’s stewardship, ALCS has increased its comprehensive coverage in Europe and continued expansion into new territories like South America, extended ALCS income to include visual contributions; been integral to the establishment of the pioneering AuthorSHARE scheme, instigated the creation of the International Authors Forum (IAF) and encouraged ALCS into the political forum via the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group.


The organisation has continued to evolve and adapt under his leadership despite continued threats to copyright and has developed its complex rights’ database to keep track of the myriad of ways that members’ works are used around the world to ensure they continue to get paid.


Tony Bradman, current Chair of ALCS said: “I’m very sad to be saying goodbye to Owen, who has so ably led ALCS for the last 16 years. He has not only captained a steady ship through some particularly murky waters, but also more than doubled the amount of money collected for writers during that time. We owe him a big thank you for all he has done for writers.”


Owen will be succeeded at ALCS by Barbara Hayes, who has occupied the role of Deputy CEO for the last 16 years. Barbara has headed up ALCS’ advocacy and communications work since 2007 and more recently added operations to her portfolio. Barbara will be taking over as Chief Executive as of 1 November, and current Head of Rights and Licensing, Richard Combes will succeed her as Deputy Chief Executive.


Barbara said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role and continuing our mission to support, champion and fight for authors and their rights.  Owen has laid a strong foundation for the company and I look forward to strengthening our position both at home and internationally to ensure authors’ rights are properly valued and rewarded.”