Chiming in, as I am now member of Board of Directors of ASCRL, the American Society for Collective Rights Licensing, Inc., as well as a long time GNSI member. ASCRL is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit collective management organization (CMO) for visual art authors and rights owners. ASCRL was created by a group of professional illustrators, photographers, and artists rights advocates in 2015. ASCRL currently has over 16,000 members, and will be distributing over 1.4 million dollars to photographers and illustrators in the coming months, out of the funds it has already received from foreign collecting societies. ASCRL has already made two illustration distributions since last July, and expects to complete two more distributions before the end of July 2020. (The next one is scheduled to be this month). That makes four distributions to illustrators in one twelve month period. Thus far each illustrator has received between $200 to $600 PER distribution, i.e., $400 to $1200 per illustrator. ASCRL also has several contracts that are under negotiation with additional collecting societies in several other countries and hopes to continue to expand.
At the current time, ASCRL funds come mostly from non-author specific, non-title specific sources. That means that the fund pools grow out of different foreign revenue sources that are not tied to your individual authorship, individual titles, individual uses, individual books, individual magazines, etc. They are general funds. Examples of fund sources include equipment levies on copiers, cell phones, computer printers, and other copying hardware. Other fund sources might include legal, non-infringing, uses of work without the rights owners permission, such as the lending of library books. Yes, foreign countries charge money for that, and give it to authors! The United States does not, and so we are pretty unfamiliar with this revenue base. ASCRL is collecting funds that these foreign countries allocate to the US for distribution to US authors. Some of these countries actually put up the seed money to start ASCRL, so that these funds can be distributed to illustrators and photographers in the USA. This is because they wanted to back a not for profit corporation, that was working for the benefit of authors, and that was transparent in its operations. ASCRL used that money to establish a computerized registry system and database, where you can register and enter your payment information. Then you get ACH bank transfers. You can visit the website www.ascrl .org, and see some of the endorsements from ASCRL members.
As you can imagine, no-one knows whose work might be copied on the copiers, cell phones, printers, or lent in libraries. So the collecting societies set up an algorithm, and ASCRL sets up an algorithm, to distribute funds generally to the class of people who might qualify. ASCRL requires that you identify three illustrations (give the titles) and state where they were published (book, magazine, or commercial website). You then tell ASCRL an estimate of the number of illustrations that you have published (you do NOT list them) and an estimate of the number of times published (you do NOT provide titles or other information). The board of advisors at ASCRL, which includes illustrators and photographers, creates a ranking system to pay out the money taking these factors into consideration, while also establishing a ceiling and floor for distributions.
If you read and sign ASCRL's membership agreement you'lll see it revokes any conflicting authorizations. The place a conflict would likely surface if it does, is generally where ASCRL and some other society are distributing money from the same fund pool or seeking to do so. If ASCRL learned of a conflict, ASCRL would advise its foreign sister society of the conflict, in order to "disambiguate" who is to make the distribution, and would provide a copy of your authorization from when you joined ASCRL. That said, if you join ASCRL because you want to participate in their large fund pool, you should notify anyone else that you have authorized to collect for foreign "collective" or "secondary" rights that you have revoked their authorization. This is only fair to them.
It is ASCRL's mission to make sure you get these distributions. I can assure you, we are not interested the legal mumbo jumbo if someone makes a mistake. We are here to help fix it and get things right. That said, if you join 50 times and intentionally lie about your publication history, we may have to re-think your membership!
For those of you who have questions about it, DACS is a British collecting society, that distributes funds based on whether you have been published in a British publication. If you do not, it is not likely you will qualify for any money from DACS. You can register with DACs directly, if you qualify. You don't need any collecting society to do that. However, ASCRL is in the process of facilitating any DACS collections to which you may be entitled, through a data base link with DACS. ASCRL also plans on waiving fees for processing DACS requests once this module is up and running. Check to see if another organization who might process for you makes a processing charge (a percentage of the money), that you can collect for nothing. ASCRL may be particularly attractive to authors who want to participate in the large fund pool, and get the DACS benefit from ASCRL once it goes active, at very little cost. It is also easy to sign up on line, and to get the payments electronically.
Also, I need to emphasize, ASCRL does not do direct licensing of your individual work, and does not prosecute copyright infringement matters. ASCRL is collecting money from foreign, legal sources, that create fund pools for which you may become eligible. Please do not hesitate to call ASCRL. We are here to help serve you and are happy to answer your questions. Many of you have called with questions and many GNSI members are already getting paid. We hope that we can serve even more of you, so do join. As I said, a 3rd distribution is in progress and another is scheduled before July.
On Feb 6, 2020, at 2:15 PM, Michael Rothman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I just wanted to mention that I joined the ASCRL as per Taina’s recommendation last year and have (happily) received royalty payments from two tranches thus far. But I wanted to bring up a issue that may not have dawned on everyone in the GNSI regarding securing royalties. Here goes: I recently received an email invitation describing efforts at securing royalties through an organization called the Artist’s Rights Society (ARS). I believe their efforts run parallel to those of the ASCRL. I also seem to remember reading that an individual illustrator seeking royalty compensation ought to join only one organization as part of that effort. Hence, joining both organizations is essentially “double dipping”. In order to check out my shaky recollection, I called the ARS today and they confirmed my recollection: joining both organizations ain’t kosher. I wasn’t sure how I got on the ARS mailing list, but I thought they should be aware of the possible redundancy in their database. The fact that other artist’s might be in the same situation and ought to avoid joining both organizations simultaneously, seems to be an ethical matter. I believe the ARS will look into the issue as well.
Separately, I thought I’d let the GNSI List Serv. know what I found out.
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