Writer’s Income from Access Copyright

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to brush the dust off everything you had published in 2015 and claim it at Access Copyright.

Haven’t heard of Access Copyright? If you are a published Canadian writer, you should know about it.

What is Access Copyright?

From their website: “Access Copyright is a collective voice of creators and publishers in Canada. A non-profit, national organization, we represent tens of thousands of Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers, and their works.

“Through agreements with sister organizations around the world, we also represent the works of hundreds of thousands of foreign creators and publishers. This rich repertoire of content is highly valued by educators, students, researchers, corporate employees and others who need to copy and share content.”

What do they do?

Again, from their website: “We license the copying of this repertoire to educational institutions, businesses, governments and others. The proceeds gathered when content is copied, remixed and shared are passed along to the copyright-holders.

“These investments help to ensure the continued creation of new and innovative works.”

What does it cost?

Affiliating with Access Copyright is free.

How does it work?

Every year between April 1st and May 31st, authors submit their Payback claim. In layman’s terms, that means they submit the number of pages they’ve had published.

Let me explain further. The work that can be claimed must be work published two years ago. This year, I will submit work published in 2015. If I was a new member, I would claim work that was published from 1996 up until and including 2015. That’s right; you get to claim 20 years-worth of work.

Access Copyright counts pages published. Don’t make the mistake of counting actual pages. I know writers who did this and shorted themselves. If their article fit on two pages in a magazine, they counted two pages even if it was 1,000 words long. A page is considered 250 words, which means the two-page article actually counted as four pages at Access Copyright.

The more pages you claim, the higher the payout.

How much money will you get?

That’s a tricky question. It depends on how many pages you’ve had published in the past twenty years, the type of material published and the type of publication it appeared in. It’s too complicated for me to go into here, but you can learn more at Access Copyright.

There is a base, which I think is around $100. All members who have had work published in the past 20 years, regardless if they are still getting published or not, receive this.

I write a weekly genealogy column that appears in three newspapers. It is about 550 words long. This counts as two pages (yes, you round down). Since it appears in three publications, I claim six (6) pages per week.

See what I did there? I wrote one column, but I can claim it three times. If my column appeared in 20 newspapers, I would claim it 20 times (x 2 pages = 40 pages per week). You claim the pages published in each publication.

I also have numerous articles published in magazines, and I have books published. My cheque was just under one thousand dollars in 2016. If you write more, you’ll get more; if you write less, you’ll get less. Exactly how much is a guess. I’ve been claiming work since 1997. I also claim as an illustrator since my photographs and art work have been published in magazines, newspapers and books.

When do you get paid?

Late November.

Do I have to claim this on Income Tax?

Yes. It is income from your writing. You will get a tax slip for it in February.

Who can join Access Copyright?

  • Writers, editors, translators and visual artists who have been published in print format.
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents living in Canada but not in Quebec.
  • Individuals who are 18 years or older.
  • Those not already affiliated with other reproduction rights agencies.

Be prepared to submit photocopies or scans of your work to prove you are who you say you are and you do what you say you do. You will also have to submit at least two pieces of acceptable identification and your Social Insurance Number.

What published work can you claim?

You can only claim work you hold copyright to. If you work for a newspaper and you’re paid to write articles, you cannot claim those articles. If you are a freelance writer—as I am—and you retain rights to your column or article—as I do—then you can claim it.

The work must be published in Canada, unless it is published abroad and available commercially in Canada. If it was published abroad and in Canada, then you claim only one of the publications.

Where do you learn more?

This is an overview of what Access Copyright is and what it does. For more detailed information, visit Access Copyright and read the sections in the drop-down menu below Creators.

If you found this information helpful, please consider buying me a cup of tea ($1.50) as if we had chatted at a cafe and I shared this with you. [Payment is through PayPal.]


11 thoughts on “Writer’s Income from Access Copyright

  1. Great post Diane. And thanks to you a few years ago I joined, and gratefully, accept my annual payment. PLR is a different story. I register my books with them too, and I receive annual statement from them, but never been paid. They always say my books are ‘found’ but not eligible. 😦

    • Thanks, Debby. I appreciate that November cheque too since income from writing has its highs and lows.

      Regarding PLR: Perhaps you can call them for clarification. Now is the time to do that. Perhaps they consider your books self-help books, which are NOT eligible. Since they are relatively new, they would be paid the maximum payout, so it would be over the $50 threshold.

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