Thursday, November 28, 2013


It's not perfect, but Access Copyright, the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, provides additional income for writers in Canada. They represent the reproduction rights of and distribute annual royalties to thousands of Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers. They can do this as educators, businesses, schools, government and other users of copyright protected works purchase licences or pay a tariff for the right to copy our works in many formats. Once a year, creators receive a cheque from this pool of money collected from these organizations. 

Access Copyright's objective for creators is:

To protect the value of their intellectual property by ensuring fair compensation when their works are copied. 

To claim your share, writers and photographers use Access Copyright's program called "Payback" and once you have registered and completed separate forms for written and visual work that you have had published in print back to 1992, you receive a proportion of the available funds every November. And yes, it's taxable income and you get a T4 for your tax return. 

The payment is based on the three factors:
  • The genre of works you have published (books, magazines, journals and newspapers)
  • How much you have published (even if you have not received a fee for your work)
  • When you have published (2014's supplementary payment will be based on works published between 1993 and 2012).
I said Access Copyright's not perfect. Here's why:
  • There is no provision for compensating creators for any work we have published online, only in print. Annoying, I think, as over the last few years, the percentage of my work online grows and is overtaking my print successes.
  • The pool of money is diminishing each year because of the education sector's self-interpretation of "fair dealing" and their decision to stop paying into the fund. This is being fought in the courts on our behalf by Access Copyright, I believe.

Writers and photographers also need to be very clear that Access Copyright does not register copyright or have anything to do with copyright infringement. For more information about copyright and how to register yours if you wish, contact the Canadian Intellectual Property office at 1-866-997-1936, or visit 

I simply cannot understand why Canadian authors and freelance writers/photographers don't take advantage of this income. It's worthwhile — I earn about $1000/year; many earn much more. The website is easy to use, and the registration and claims for your previous year's publication can be done online. 

Go to Payback at and get cracking!