What is copyright licensing?

Copyright can be 'assigned' or 'licensed'. Assigning your copyright means selling it; you will no longer have control over the way in which the artwork is used.

Licensing your copyright, on the other hand, means you simply grant permission to the licensee to use the artwork in a specific way for a specific purpose. It is also possible to license the same artwork for a number of different uses.

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Which uses of the work do you license?

We can license any or all rights in the copyrighted works of artists whose estates sign up to our service, as defined under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

That means, with your permission, we can license the following uses:
  • Making a copy of the work
  • Distributing copies of the work to the public
  • Renting or lending copies of the work to the public
  • Communicating the work to the public
We grant these rights to our licensing customers generally on a one-time, non-exclusive basis.

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How much will it cost me?

There is no charge to sign up to our Copyright Licensing service. As we're not-for-profit, we retain a percentage of the royalties we collect on your behalf to cover our costs.

For royalties collected in the UK we deduct 25% and for royalties collected from overseas we deduct 15%.

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What are your quality criteria?

We aim to ensure that any uses of the work meet the following criteria:
  • Colour is reproduced as faithfully as possible
  • You are credited as the artist of the work
  • Your work is not manipulated or subjected to any derogatory treatment
  • The title of your work is cited accurately

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How do you work out what to charge?

We set our prices according to market rates. Our many years of experience, backed up by continued conversations with our customers, have led to us to build up a fair and comprehensive list of prices.
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Do you only deal with UK requests?

We are part of an international network of 37 collecting agencies in 32 countries. This means that a magazine in Tokyo, a television station in Australia or a book publisher in Germany wanting to reproduce the work can speak to someone in their own language and their own time zone, and be issued a licence under their own country’s laws.

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Will you promote the work?

When you sign up for our Copyright Licensing service you become part of an international community of artists and their estates whose rights are represented worldwide.

We'll provide an easy and streamlined process for customers wanting to clear artistic copyright, but we do not actively promote the work to them.

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How do people know to contact you when they want to reproduce artworks?

We represent 90,000 artists and their heirs worldwide, which means we are often the picture editor’s first port of call when they need to clear an artist’s copyright.

Any customer wishing to apply for a licence can check if we represent the artist by using our searchable list of artists. Alternatively, any request that comes directly to the artist or their estate can be passed to our team to follow up with a licence.

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Which type of uses can be covered by a licence?

The work you inherited can be reproduced in many different ways, for example in a book, on a mug, as a theatre backdrop, in an advertising campaign, on a website or as a postcard.

We can license all these uses on your behalf. Back to top of page

Will you help me if my copyright is infringed?

If you sign up to our Copyright Licensing service and the work you own the copyright to is used without permission, we would consult with you, then seek to negotiate with the infringer and achieve a suitable compromise or settlement.

As the copyright owner, you retain the right to initiate legal proceedings yourself if you wish to do so. We would assist you wherever possible. We are not obliged, however, to institute legal proceedings on behalf of the artists and their estates we represent.

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Can I override your fees?

Yes. If you believe the use warrants a higher or lower fee, it is your right to override our fees.

Our tariffs were set after researching the various industries and what uses they wanted to make of artworks. In the majority of cases the artists and their estates we represent do not choose to override our fees.

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Can I waive a fee?

We believe all artists and their beneficiaries should benefit from the rights and royalties legally available for the use of the works created by artists. It is well accepted that writers, musicians and composers benefit financially from their copyright royalties and we believe that visual artists and their heirs should too.

We are flexible on this point, however. If you wish to waive fees in a particular instance, or for a certain use, it is your right to do so. We understand that you may sometimes wish to deal with certain reproductions yourself, particularly where you are closely involved with an exhibition or project. In these cases we would not put a licence in place.

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Where do your customers get an image of the work?

Anyone who is issued a licence by us should source the actual image from galleries, image libraries, museums or wherever high resolution images of the work are held.

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I already receive royalties from you, does this mean you already represent me?

Copyright Licensing is not the only service we provide to artists and their beneficiaries. If you have received Artist’s Resale Right or Payback royalties from us, it does not mean that we automatically manage your copyright.

If you are unsure which services you are currently signed up to, please contact us on licensing@dacs.org.uk.

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What if I already have someone who licenses my copyright?

If an agent or image library already licenses your artistic copyright, then this would conflict with our Copyright Licensing service. Only one organisation can license and negotiate the reproduction of your work on an exclusive basis.

If you choose DACS to manage your copyright, you still retain ownership of it, and can continue to reproduce the artworks for your own purposes.

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Will signing up to this service cause a problem with my gallery?

Your relationship with your gallery should remain unaffected, unless they already operate a licensing service on your behalf.

Our Copyright Licensing service deals only with the reproduction of your works, and should not be confused with the sale of original artistic works or the hiring out of images of the work.

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Can I leave the service?

Of course. Most artists and their beneficiaries who sign up to our Copyright Licensing service are very happy, but we understand that it might not suit everyone.

If you choose to leave the service, all you need to do is give us three months' written notice. We will continue to work with you in the intervening period, and pay any outstanding royalties after your registration comes to an end. Please note that this will not affect the validity of any licences we put in place during your membership.

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