What members can expect from ALCS in 2023

Chief Executive Barbara Hayes and other members of the leadership team explain their focus for writers and their rights in the year ahead.

CEO Barbara Hayes counters the recent negativity in the UK, as she writes about what we have to look forward to in the coming year, including a record-breaking distribution in March.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with all the doom and gloom that seems to be around right now! From strikes to inflation and rainy, cold weather, there’s not much raising our spirits at the moment, but I’d like to think that we’ll have much to be grateful for in the year ahead.

From 1 January we have our new Chair, Jo Revill, in place to help the ALCS Board with our strategic pathway and she has hit the ground running.

ALCS is on target to release over £31m to our members in March, which will be a record pay-out (last March we paid out £26m). We hope this will be a welcome contribution towards managing the cost-of-living crisis affecting all of us.

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and the Educational Recording Agency continue to be our largest sources of revenue in the UK. With the establishment of a new audiovisual collecting society, of which ALCS is a partner, there are new possibilities for future income too. Fortunately, our end of year payments from our overseas collecting society partners were sizeable and the strength of the UK’s creative talent remains very attractive internationally. This really should be celebrated in the current economic climate.

Last year was the first time we paid out for the sales of your second-hand books sold by World of Books, through the new AuthorSHARE scheme. It’s a truly inspiring initiative and we will continue to encourage its development in 2023, working with partners to increase the number of used-books retailers taking part in the project.

Our recent survey shows a continued downward trend for authors’ earnings, but it also furnished us with excellent data for our advocacy activities to improve the environment in which you work and ensure your rights remain protected. We’ll keep you updated on progress as the year goes on, regarding our work both in the UK and overseas.

A key goal for ALCS this year is to make the complex easier in what is a very data-driven company, and so we will begin our new initiative to upgrade and develop our systems for the future. This is a huge but very necessary task to ensure we can service all our members’ accounts as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Please ensure you visit the members’ area to update your details and works on a regular basis. It’s easy to use and registering your works helps ensure we pay you what you’re owed.

Finally, don’t forget to recommend us to writers who are yet to join ALCS. This really makes a difference and gives prospective members confidence that we are a bona fide company that supports writers and fights for their rights.


New Chair, Jo Revill, writes about the immense responsibility of her role and lays out her priorities for the year ahead.

Taking on the role of Chair at ALCS carries a weighty responsibility to past, current, and future writers. As I join a wonderfully energetic and committed Board of Directors, I consider myself fortunate to work alongside a very knowledgeable CEO, Barbara, and her team, at a time when our job has never mattered more.

UK writers continue to inform, create, entertain and educate to an extraordinarily high degree, with millions of works broadcast and published, in print and online, year after year. I don’t know what it is that makes us such a strong creative community, but I do know that this cannot continue without sufficiently rewarding creators.

Some of you will have received substantial payments over the past few years; too many others are struggling. As Chair, my priority this year will be to meet, face to face, as many members as possible to hear about your experiences and what you expect from us as your society. The concerns of those writing educational textbooks with a lack of certainty over the national curricula plans may differ from a screenwriter working intensively with a production company in the age of streaming. But all writers need determination and ambition to succeed, and they cannot do it for free.

The emergence of new technologies like the chatbot ChatGPT and platforms that disrupt traditional publishing – these are developments that can only be understood and tackled when everyone involved in the creative sector comes together to find a solution. That’s why I’m pleased that my role also involves co-chairing the CLA, a body that works with rightsholders and the licensees to secure agreements which aim to help the whole system.

Following a very busy 2022 and our elections, I’m pleased to be welcoming back novelists Maggie Gee and James McConnachie onto the Board. We will be looking later this year at how our strategy works for members and how we can reach those writers who are not members but who may be owed money.  Alongside this, I’m proud that we are able to fund a number of organisations who promote writing, reading and help disadvantaged groups who are struggling in this harsh economic environment.

I am really looking forward to serving you as Chair and hearing your ideas. Please keep them coming!


Head of Rights and Licensing Richard Combes writes about the need for government to adopt a more thoughtful approach around artificial intelligence and copyright, with a special contribution from chatbot ChatGPT!

Authors improve our lives by providing us with entertainment, inspiration, and new perspectives on the world. They can also help us understand and cope with difficult emotions and situations, spark important conversations and bring awareness to important issues. Overall, authors contribute to our personal and societal growth and well-being.

That’s what ChatGPT, the most famous of a slew of recent ‘creative’ AI systems, wrote when I asked it to explain how authors make the world a better place. So, this year we will be pressing the Government to adopt a more considered approach to the complex issues surrounding AI and the future of creativity, authorship and copyright.

Technology rewriting the narrative around how creators are valued is not a new story. Successive authors’ earnings surveys describe a downward trend for the majority, which broadly mirrors the rise of online distribution systems and networks. Creativity and technology enrich our lives in many different ways, but as the pre-General Election debates take shape, we will be arguing for policies which reset the balance between the two, enabling a fairer approach to rewarding creative workers.

This year we will collaborate with our partners at CLA in developing new licensing revenues in its 40th year and support the development of the Audiovisual Licensing Alliance, a new audiovisual licensing agency, in its first. Alongside the opportunities being created in the UK, we’ll be working closely with our colleagues and partners in the EU and beyond to ensure your works receive their due reward and recognition.

So, let’s look ahead to 2023 with optimism and remember this: human authors bring their own experiences, creativity and emotions which add uniqueness and depth to their work that AI cannot replicate. At least, that’s what ChatGPT offered when I pressed it for a suitable closing line.