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What to charge for copyright licensing

The amount you charge should reflect how the image will be used. Structure your licensing fees around the medium – for example, TV, magazine or e-book, and the commerciality – does it help the customer generate a profit?

We’ve factored these considerations into our copyright licensing fees, and have the expertise to negotiate the right fee for our members.

Artists: register for DACS Licensing
Beneficiaries and heirs: register for DACS Licensing

Licensing your work and charging a fee

Copyright licensing enables you to give others permission to use your work, and to control how they use it. As you automatically hold the copyright for your creations, other people need to clear any usage of it with you.

You decide what they need to pay for it. This allows you to generate income from your work. The easiest way can be to set up a copyright usage licence, detailing rates for different purposes of image use. You can restrict usage to certain things.

Learn more about copyright

Licensing vs assigning copyright

Licensing means you are paid for use of your work and remain in control of its usage. Assigning copyright to someone else means you give them full control of its usage. You lose your author rights and you will not receive any royalty payments for print, digital or broadcasting usage of the work.

As an artist or creator working for someone else, this can make a big difference to what you will get for what you create.

Find out about commissions and copyright

Be wary of licensing your work ‘in perpetuity’. This means forever, or on an ‘exclusive basis’. This would disallow anyone else, even yourself, from sharing, reproducing or distributing it.

Things to factor into your pricing

When deciding on your licence fees, consider:

  • where your work will be positioned — for example, front cover, editorial, lead campaign image
  • the volume of the product: as an example, compare an academic publication with a small print run of 500, to a coffee table publication with over 10,000 copies
  • who’s using the work: as an example, a small independent gallery has less resources than a global corporation
  • how long the image needs to be licensed for
  • non-exclusive or exclusive use

Other things to consider

There are several parts to the process if organising copyright licensing yourself:

  • negotiating a licence fee that is appropriate for the use
  • setting up the licence agreement, detailing the terms of use for reproduction (we recommend you get legal advice for this)
  • administrating requests, payments and agreements
  • proofing designs of products your work is used for
  • reviewing samples of the product

Pricing models

You may decide to charge a flat (one-off) fee for use of your work. Or, you may choose to receive royalties, so that you’re given an amount each time the image is used.

For book publishing, consider a one off fee, and to decide on the amount, consider how the image will be used:

  • Is it for the front cover?
  • What’s the scale of the publication, worldwide or UK only?

For merchandise, consider a royalty rate: a percentage of the retail or wholesale selling price. The more items sold, the more you’ll receive in royalty payments.

Become a DACS Licensing member

We’ve applied a wide range of factors to our copyright licensing fees, and use our expertise to negotiate the right fee for our members.


The content of this article is not intended to be applied to individual circumstances. It is not legal advice, and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.