Your distribution questions answered

We answer your most pressing questions about our recent record-breaking distribution.

This month, we paid over 100,000 members their share of a record £31.8 million. Have you ever wondered where all the money we collect comes from? Or perhaps you’re asking why you’ve been paid more for your articles this year? We’ve got you covered!

Where does the money come from?

Members sometimes call us a magic money tree, we’ve also been called the photocopier elves, fairy godmother and freelancer Christmas, none of which are quite true unfortunately.

In reality, we collect money for writers from over 100 sources around the world. When somebody re-uses your books, scripts, articles or visual contributions, you have a right to be paid. The amounts collected are often small and would be difficult for individuals to keep track of. So, we work alongside partner organisations to license these activities and collect the money that UK creatives are owed.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of our biggest sources of income:

  • For an organisation to scan or copy your work, they must purchase a license from our partner, the Copyright Licensing Agency. The money collected from licensing is paid to the publishers and authors of the works.
  • Public Lending Right (PLR) programs compensate authors when their works are lent out by libraries to the public. We collect money from PLR schemes around the world.
  • When British programmes are retransmitted through cable to other countries, we receive a fee which we distribute to the relevant writers.
  • Schools can purchase licenses from the Educational Recording Agency, which allows them to record broadcasts for educational purposes without infringing copyright.
  • Private copying levies are a levy charged on the sale of recording and copying equipment, to compensate creators for the private reuse of their works.

You can see a full list of the income sources included in the March 2023 distribution here.

I’ve received more for my articles payment than normal, is that correct?

In a word, yes. We know that things are particularly hard for writers right now. So this year we made some adjustments to the way that our articles payment scheme works, so that more of the money we had collected was paid out to those who claimed. In the past, we’ve kept some in reserve for claimants who come forward in future, this year we’ve paid more of this money out.

Sadly, payments are unlikely to remain this high in future years, as the levels of payment will normalise, but for now, yes, it’s all accurate!

The amount you receive is dependent on a number of factors; the sector you write articles for, the length of your article, when the article was published, and the number of other claimants in the same sector or timeframe. You can learn more about our articles scheme here.

Why haven’t I been paid?

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.

Still have a question? Read our full list of FAQs.