Advice - Photography / Copyright / Get paid for copying and lending

Photographers are entitled to extra money from companies and organisations that copy their published work, whether traditional photocopying or by newer means. To be sure of receiving this, and other payments for such "secondary uses", photographers need to register with the collecting society DACS. This is free to NUJ members. See the link below.

How these payments generally work is that libraries, press offices and others who do bulk copying pay a licence fee to the collecting society. This arranges a survey of a sample of licensees, to work out statistically how to distribute it. Efforts continue to deliver the share of this money due to newspapers' contributors. DACS also distributes money collected for secondary uses in other countries.

DACS collects and distributes certain payments due to photographers by default. Any photographers who want to opt out of this arrangement should contact DACS (linked below).

Public Lending Right

If you are an author of a book - and you are if your photographs appear in one - and the book is supplied to libraries, you are entitled to claim Public Lending Right to compensate for loss of sales due to it being lent by libraries. See "Public Lending Right", linked below.


In order to claim for work that appeared in a magazine or "journal" you need to give its International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). This uniquely identifies a "serial" - the librarian's jargon for a newspaper, magazine or journal. An ISSN is an eight-digit number in the form 0000-0000. (Annoyingly, the ALCS website wants you to enter it without the hyphen.) It "should be displayed in a prominent position on every issue". An online edition may have a separate ISSN to a print edition, and editions in different territories should have different ISSNs.

In the UK ISSNs are managed by the British Library and there is an international ISSN lookup tool: see the links below. It's probably easier to update your own records of where your work has appeared as you go.


In order to claim for work that appeared in a book you need to give its International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This uniquely identifies an edition of a book. The preferred form is a 13-digit number; older editions may quote only a 10-digit number. These may or may not be broken up with hyphens.

UK publishers and self-publishers buy ISBNs from the Nielsen ISBN store; there are many lookup tools, such as - see the links below.


You may see mention of an International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) - a new-ish standard for unique identifiers for authors (or illustrators or photographers...) You do not, yet, need to give this to claim payments from a collecting society. We believe these identifiers are being assigned automatically behind the scenes. For UK authors, the British Library offers a "portal" to add and update ISNI entries - see the link below.

More advice and links...
* An ISBN lookup tool from
* Public Lending Right (Now administered by the British Library)
* ISSN search
* The Nielsen ISBN store buy one or more UK ISBNs here
* Public Lending Right general advice
* ISNI portal you need to create an account on
* Uploaded 09/06/2323: if you have a printout, check the current version at
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.