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What is licensing?

An agreement giving certain people permission to reproduce copyright-protected artwork in particular ways is known as a licensing agreement. The agreement may be set up with the artist or creator, their agent, a beneficiary, the representative of an estate, or another copyright holder. Usually this involves a cost.

People from a range of industries are interested in reproducing unique, original work, and getting permission for this from the copyright holder. Sectors include advertising, publishing, broadcasting, multimedia and merchandising.

How they want to reproduce an image can really vary. Works by artists DACS represents have been licensed for everything from greetings cards and film sets, to websites and silk scarves. Licences we set up are non-exclusive. That means someone else can also set up licensing on the same artwork.

Learn more about visual arts copyright

Secure a licensing agreement through DACS

We have a direct connection with artists, creators and their estates, and can access over 100,000 copyright holders to set up licensing agreements. Copyright lasts for 70 years after an artist’s death: the rights are passed on to a beneficiary.

How it works

You’ll need to tell us what you want to use the image for. Some artists may also ask to see a proposed layout, printer's proofs or samples before giving permission. Our team will let you know which artists have particular conditions for the use of their work. The team will provide you with a realistic timeframe in which permission may be granted.

We do everything we can to obtain permission and issue a licence for our customers' projects. If permission is not granted, where appropriate we suggest using the work of another artist.

DACS also provides high-resolution image files for work by over 400 artists and creators through Artimage, our image bank. Many of these are pre-approved for licensing.

Read more about the process and timescale to license a work

Request to licence a work

Set up a new image licensing agreement through DACS. We have a direct connection with artists, beneficiaries and beneficiaries, and can access over 100,000 copyright holders.

Request to licence a work

Earn by licensing your own work through DACS

In 2022, DACS secured a total of £1.4 million for artists, creatives and their beneficiaries through licensing. We can handle the negotiations and licensing process, protect your rights, and collect royalties for you. Find out about working with DACS to license your work, or work you own the copyright to.

Learn about earning through licensing your work

Rights DACS can license

We can license most rights in works by artists we represent and whose works are protected by copyright, as defined under the amended Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.

These include:

  • 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 copies of the work to the public

DACS licensing principles

We aim to protect the integrity of artworks by ensuring any licensed use meets the following criteria:

  1. Colour is reproduced as faithfully as possible.
  2. The artist is credited as the creator of the work.
  3. The work is not cropped, overprinted or manipulated without the artist or estate's prior approval.
  4. The title of the work is cited accurately.
  5. The work is reproduced in its entirety.
  6. The work is not subjected to any derogatory treatment.

Costs for licensing

Costs will vary depending on the industry and the intended usage that permission is being requested for. But generally a charge is made per artistic work and for each use.

Our pricing model is based on how an artwork will be used and how commercial the project is. For example, the more prominently an image is featured, like on the front cover of a book, or in an advertising campaign, the higher the licensing fee.

Read about what to charge for copyright licensing

Get an idea of the cost for your book reproduction

Example licensing price ranges

For book publishing, prices range from around £50 to license an image for a small print run of 500, to approximately £250 to license the same image for the front cover of an ebook with 50,000+ downloads and its hard copy. There are different price ranges for academic books.

For merchandising the copyright licence price is usually an agreed percentage of the price, multiplied by the number of items produced. With retail, the percentage rate is 10%.

Find out more – read about requesting to license a work

Costs for image hire

We can also supply high-res image file at an additional cost through our online resource, Artimage. This cost is in addition to the copyright licence fee.

Find example reproduction costs on the Artimage site:

Our fee, and how we pay copyright holders

We pay artists 4 times a year. To cover our costs, we retain 25% of the copyright licensing royalties we collect for artists, creators, beneficiaries and other copyright holders in the UK.

Find out more about what we do

Each year we publish the total licensing payments DACS makes over the previous 12 months.

Read our annual report for full details

Length of licence

How long the licence lasts for depends on the use. Book publishing licences last 10 years. Merchandise licences are usually 1 year, but can also be on a rolling contract.