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DACS: Protecting and Rewarding Visual Artists in the Digital Age

DACS: The Design and Artists Copyright Service

For many digital creators, the concept of royalties might seem like something reserved for musicians or writers. But what if your artistic skills are used in the creation of digital content? That's where DACS, the Design and Artists Copyright Society, comes in.

What is DACS?

Established in 1984, DACS is a non-profit organisation dedicated to championing the rights of visual artists. They act as a rights management organisation, specifically focused on the digital age. DACS works to ensure artists are properly compensated for their work whenever it's used commercially.

What Does DACS Do?

DACS offers a range of services to benefit visual artists, including:

  • Royalty Collection and Distribution: DACS collects royalties for artists on their behalf whenever their work is resold on the secondary market or used in certain commercial contexts, such as public exhibitions or online reproductions. In 2023 alone, DACS distributed a staggering £16.4 million to artists and their estates.
  • Artist Advocacy: DACS actively lobbies for legislation that protects artists' rights in the digital world. They also publish informative resources and conduct research to educate creators about copyright and licensing.
  • International Reach: DACS is part of a global network of collecting societies, allowing them to represent artists' rights on an international scale. This means you can potentially receive royalties for your work being used overseas.
  • Licensing: thanks to its connections and wide reach, DACS is able to help members to license their work appropriately.
  • Education: DACS publishes articles about topics such as how to establish your copyright and respond to copyright infringements, estate planning for copyright holders and even what to do to ensure that an artist's rights are managed after death.

What is DACS Payback?

Has your work been published in a book, magazine or been shown on TV? You’re probably eligible for Payback royalties, in addition to other copyright royalties you may already have received. Payback covers secondary uses of your works, like photocopying, scanning and cable retransmission.

How Do I Apply for a Payment?

Joining DACS is a straightforward process. You can sign up through their website Once a member, you can register your artwork with DACS. This helps them track where your work is being used and ensures you receive any royalties owed.

DACS operates a pay-out system, so you'll need to submit a claim form to receive any royalties accrued. Your DACS claim form is completed in two stages, in February and April of each year, and you are prompted by email about when the deadlines are for each part. You include details of all the ways in which your work has been used, digitally and in print, and asked for details of any publications and websites. This can be quite daunting when you apply for the first time because if you are to receive what you are due then you need to try to include all historical publications: books, magazines, PR material and online uses. These details are kept in the DACS database so that each year you only have to add new uses to add to your claim. Full details and guidance on claiming your royalties are available on the DACS website.

In today's digital landscape, where artistic creations are easily reproduced and distributed, DACS offers a valuable service for visual artists. By joining DACS, you're not only protecting your copyright but also ensuring you're fairly compensated for your work. With a significant sum distributed to artists last year alone, DACS demonstrates its commitment to supporting the livelihoods of visual creators in the digital age.

How do I get paid by DACS?

A payment is made directly into your bank account in the Autumn, normally October, of the year of application. It can range from very little to thousands of pounds.

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