DACS: a great idea

It's the time of year when those fat fingered bankers rub their hands together thinking about their annual bonuses. But before you rush off to be sick, let us tell you about a bonus scheme that you could benefit from if you're a visual artist whose work appears in books and magazines, or on certain TV shows. Designers, illustrators and photographers can all sign up for it.

DACS stands for the Design and Artists Copyright Society and they've negotiated collective licensing agreements (via organisations like the Copyright Licensing Agency) with local councils, libraries and media businesses. Wherever the work of an artist can be re-used - for instance via a library photocopier, or by appearing as a prop in a TV programme - money's collected which goes into the pot. Each December, creatives who've successfully applied to be part of the DACS Payback scheme receive a payment.

In 2011, DACS shared out £4.4million between over 14,000 creatives. Illustrator Sharon Tancredi was one of them. "It gives creatives the opportunity to claim back their share of the collective licensing revenue each year on their behalf. It's an entitlement so why not take advantage of it?" she says.

Here Sharon Tancredi illustrated some forks on adventure in a land of food for Kraft.

To get in on the action, all you have to do is send an email to DACS at payback@dacs.org.uk and they'll get back to you with details of the 2012 scheme in July. The biggest single payment in 2011 was £5560 to an artist whose work has appeared in print and on television. The average payment was £285.

"I've claimed for the last three years on magazines and various books I've had commissioned or featured illustrations in. This year I will also add work that has appeared on TV in adverts," says digital illustrator Adam Benton. "There are enough people taking advantage of artists work with small or non-existent fees as it is, at least this goes some way of providing a royalty for some of the usages."

Adam Benton's work ranges from high technology to high fantasy.

The Association of Illustrators chairman Rod Hunt is another supporter of the scheme and he too was able to claim for TV usage this year thanks to his book Where's Stig? The World Tour, which appeared in TV advertising. "The AOI encourages all its members to submit a claim for qualifying work. The money is available and if you're entitled to claim you only have to fill out a short form and provide some supporting evidence, for instance a book title, year of publication and ISBN number. Subsequent years you can claim for the same published work and your claim could increase as you do new work," says Hunt.

If you live outside the UK, a list of equivalent organisations is available here, and you should claim through them. If there isn't one and your work appears in a UK publication or TV show, you may still be able to apply through DACS. Even if you only qualify for the minimum payment, in 2011 that amount was £25. For the effort of filling in a form, it's still better than a poke in the eye from a fat fingered banker.

Rod Hunt's Stig series of Stig books with the BBC have become best sellers.