It’s all change at DACS. There are two dates you need to put into your shiny new 2017 calendar:
- 16th January 2017
- 17th February 2017
The first date is when the DACS Payback Scheme opens for your 2016 claim, which is much earlier than usual (traditionally, it’s opened in August). The second deadline is the cut-off date for claims.
For those of you who don’t know, the DACS Payback scheme is the system photographers use for claiming money they're entitled to for any secondary uses of their work (the most common example of which is photocopying: a magazine might pay you for using your photo in their publication, but if someone else then photocopies that magazine article you’re entitled to be paid for that use too). It’s similar to the ALCS system for words.
Historically, I felt the system worked well. Claims for words was made via ALCS and claims for photos via DACS. Now, it’s all changing, following some ‘interesting’ discussions between several organisations that deal with the income derived from secondary rights. Some of these changes will make things easier for some people, but not everyone.
For example, ALCS recently surveyed writers, asking if they would be interested in claiming for photos at the same time. For some writers this makes sense. If your photos have only ever appeared alongside your articles, such as travel pieces, then being able to make one claim will probably be easier for you. (I’m not sure if ALCS plan on introducing this for this year, but it’s obviously something they’re exploring.)
However, for someone like me, whose photos appear in books and on television (I’m BBC WeatherWatcher Snapper Simon, if you didn’t know), I can’t claim for all of my photograph uses via an organisation like ALCS. (Indeed, just to complicate matters further, photographic agency websites like Alamy offer a service to collect DACS funds on your behalf - fine if you only sell images via Alamy, though). I shall still need to submit a separate DACS claim, as well as an ALCS claim.
Because of these changes, DACS need to collect a lot more information from photographers - similar to the level of detail that ALCS collects from writers (ISSN/ISBN of every market every photograph has ever appeared in). Historically, for DACS, we’ve only had to account for three detailed uses of our photographic uses, for auditing purposes. From now on DACS will need this level of detail for EVERY image (and quite right too, in my opinion).
They accept that this will mean a lot of work for some people. (Thankfully, I’ve always collected all of this extra information, so it’s not too difficult for me), but the important point to note is that changes are taking place, so make sure you read carefully any information DACS or ALCS offer for future claims.
DACS will put more information online nearer the time, although they’ve attempted to answer some of the most common questions here: https://www.dacs.org.uk/for-artists/payback/frequently-asked-questions
Whatever you do, make sure you claim what you’re entitled to claim. These secondary rights payments are important to us.