ByLine - a new source of revenue for freelance journalists?

Online syndication

ALCS, the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society, will soon be re-launching UniversalByLine. "ByLine" is an online syndication service for freelance journalists (see the last Freelance). The NUJ has always supported it, especially as it is run exclusively on behalf of writers.

The most important thing about Byline, says Lawrence Dalziel, ALCS's Licensing and Business Development Manager, "is that the service is free to all NUJ members, but you do have to complete our registration forms and give us your email address". For more details, go to ALCS's website or email even if you've already registered, to make sure that ALCS and Universal ByLine have your email address.

UniversalByLine can trade online in text, photographs and illustrations. It is secure: material it carries can't be lifted and used without being paid for. Journalists can lodge previously published work with UniversalByLine, which can sell licences to use it on to other publications. Cash will by collected, sales reported and payments due to individual journalists will be collected centrally and disbursed monthly. You will be able to set fees for each article posted, or, if you prefer, a default fee - previously agreed with the NUJ - can be allocated.

The success of UniversalByLine will depend on the number of journalists who contribute to it. The more work is posted, the more attractive UniversalByLine will be to editors and the more viable a proposition it will be. "The prime objective is to give freelance journalists the ability to control what happens to their work," Lawrence Dalziel says, and "also to ensure that they receive fair compensation".

Control is an important point - and you do need to be sure, before using this service, whether you have signed away any rights, and which ones. (Check all contracts carefully.)

Book authors have known for a long time the value of being members of ALCS and the delight of receiving occasional and unexpected payments. Around 35,000 writers are currently registered with ALCS, and last year some £9m was paid to writers whose work has been copied, broadcast or recorded. The syndication business will aims to lock on to the Society's existing database system.

Many freelance NUJ members will already know that ALCS made its first distribution of fees in September for the photocopying in the business and education sector of articles published in magazines, and overseas. More than ten thousand articles written by members of the Society have now been registered with ALCS ready for the first ever distribution of journal article photocopying fees. (Articles published before April 1997 will not generate any payments).

A second distribution will be made in February. To be eligible for a share of these fees, and to get news of developments at UniversalByLine it is essential to register with ALCS - send an email to

Last modified: 4 December 2000 - © 2000 contributors
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