Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society

The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a British organization that works to ensure that writers are fairly compensated for any of their works that are copied, broadcast or recorded. It has operated in the United Kingdom since 1977. From that year to 2007, the ALCS distributed over £156 million to authors, and at the end of 2007 had in excess of 55,000 members.


The ALCS was founded in 1977 after a long campaign in the United Kingdom by the Writers' Action Group (WAG) for writers to receive remuneration for the lending of their works by libraries. Then known as the Authors' Lending and Copyright Society, it was incorporated on 23 March 1977 to handle:

However, the organization that was eventually responsible for distributing the fees obtained from the lending of books in libraries was the Public Lending Right

In 1982 the Copyright Licensing Agency was founded by ALCS and the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS). ALCS receives the majority of its income (65–70%) from the CLA's photocopying licensing schemes.

Aims and operation

The ALCS represents the interests of all UK writers and aims to ensure they are fairly compensated for any works that are copied, broadcast or recorded. The organization declares that it is dedicated to protecting and promoting authors' rights:

  • by encouraging the establishment of collective licensing schemes, where appropriate;
  • by fostering an awareness of copyright issues to enable writers to maximise their income; and
  • by ensuring that fees resulting from such schemes are efficiently collected and distributed.

ALCS's ordinary members sign a mandate that authorizes the Society to license and collect royalties on their behalf. ALCS is granted authority to exercise rights on each author's behalf as part of schemes for the collective administration of royalties in the UK and abroad. The rights range from photocopying and repeat broadcast transmission in the UK and internationally to reproduction in journals and repeat use through the Internet and digital reproduction. The authority entitles ALCS in agreed circumstances to permit or forbid the exercise of the rights, grant licences, collect fees for use and damages for misuse and take action to defend and protect the rights.

From its inception in 1977 to 2007, the ALCS distributed over £156 million to authors, and in the 2006–2007 financial year it paid over £16.74 million to over 45,000 authors. At the end of 2007, it had 59,449 members.

As an authority on copyright matters and authors' interests, the ALCS is committed to fostering an awareness of intellectual property issues among the writing community. It monitors matters affecting copyright both in the UK and internationally, and makes regular representations on writers' behalf to the UK government and the European Commission.


The ALCS is governed by a board of 12 directors which is made up of working writers. Four directors are nominated by the Society of Authors, four by the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, and four independent directors are elected by the Society's ordinary members. The Board is responsible for the overall performance of the Society, which is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee.

ALCS has two standing committees. The Finance Sub Committee, which meets three times a year, monitors the financial performance of the company and advises the Board on any variations from agreed budgets. It also advises the Executive on its financial strategy, and alerts the Executive to key financial issues which the Board should be addressing. The Distribution Sub Committee meets five or six times a year to review ALCS's royalty distribution policies and proposes developments and changes to the Board. An Authors' Rights Working Party meets three or four times a year to develop, together with the Executive, the Society's plans for rights awareness and education.


External links

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