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Update your works with ALCS by 10 September to get ‘free money’

AUTHORS who have had works published in journals, magazines and the trade press - including those that now exist only as online pdfs - can get "free money" via the Authors' Licensing and Copyright Society (ALCS).

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ALCS's offices at Shackleton House near London Bridge, with part of HMS Belfast visible in the background

ALCS distributes money collected from institutions such as corporates, government departments and university libraries for licences for "secondary uses" of authors' works, such as library photocopying and storage and dissemination via corporate databases. (There's a more detailed explanation of where the money all comes from here.)

The money's then distributed to authors by ALCS. The biggest distribution is in March: we hear that an LFB member received a record-breaking amount over £7000 in the last one. There's a smaller distribution on 30 September.

So if you're already with ALCS, make sure they have details of your recent works published in periodicals - not newspapers, regretably - by 10 September. The ALCS website members' area has a guide to how to update details of your work in time for the September distribution.

Also ensure that your email, address and bank details are up to date by 10 September. ALCS will email you to let you know if you're getting some money for the September distribution.

ALCS also pays out for books you've written, edited or contributed chapters to.

Works for which ALCS pays out now include "visual contributions" - images (drawings, graphs, photos) in which you hold copyright, used to illustrate your articles or books. (The smaller September distribution includes money for these visual contributions.)

Visual journalists who take photographs other than just to illustrate their own written work are advised to investigate DACS - the equivalent for collecting and distributing income for secondary licences for photographers and artists.

If as an author you've not signed up for ALCS, do so now.