Get Access to Access Copyright Royalties

This article about how to access Access Copyright royalties is written by Dr. Nadine Robinson, a freelance writer, professor, and keynote speaker based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Nadine is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the Canadian Freelance Guild. She can be reached at

Have you filed your Access Copyright claim for this year? The claim period opened on April 1 and runs until May 31. If you’re not sure what Access Copyright is, read on…

Get Access to Access Copyright Royalties

Get access to Access Copyright royalties

Freelancing can be a tough business where it sometimes feels like no one has your back. Access Copyright (known as CanCopy from 1988 to 2002) is one organization looking out for content creators by compensating them for peoples’ use of their works.

The national non-profit represents over 13,000 Canadian writers, visual artists and publishers, and their works. When work is copied and shared, by educators, students, researchers and corporate employees, Access Copyright sends their affiliates royalties.

If your work appears in newspapers, magazines, journals, and or books, you may be eligible for an annual payback.

Show me the money!

According to Robert Gilbert, Access Copyright Communications Specialist and Affiliate Relations, the average base payment for Payback last year was $51.74.

All registered affiliates are entitled to the base payment, which represents each content creators’ equal share of 40% of the Repertoire funds available for distribution. (That number has dropped significantly from $175.26 in 2010, since the government added education as a fair-dealing exception in the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act. Access Copyright has been trying to advocate to restore fair compensation since 2012).

There is also a supplementary payment representing the other 60% of the Repertoire funds, that, according to the website, varies depending on “what genre of work you published (books, magazines, scholarly journals and newspapers), how much you published and when you published. In order to receive this supplementary payment, you must submit a Payback claim.” (Source)

Title-specific payments will also be sent directly to you when Access Copyright is aware of specific titles copied, though less than 40 per cent of their licensees file works copied reports.

Who can apply to receive base payments?

Print and some digital content creators, including writers, editors, translators, photographers and illustrators who are Canadian citizens aged 18 or older, and have published work in books, magazines, newspapers or scholarly journals, and have retained reproduction rights can apply to affiliate with Access Copyright. If you reside in Quebec or are already affiliated with another reproduction rights agency (such as COPIBEC in Quebec), you are not eligible to apply.

How do I apply and how long does it take?

To begin the process, begin Access Copyright’s registration process available at After the initial screening, you will receive an email to submit photocopies, photos or digital copies of work you retain reproduction rights to.

Only one work sample (including the cover and copyright page of one published book) is required for a book with an ISBN that is not self-published. Otherwise, three samples from the following are needed:

  1. Cover and copyright pages of self-published books
  2. The first page of your article from three magazines, journals or newspapers
  3. The cover and masthead pages of the issues the three articles appear in

The articles in your samples cannot be from the same publication unless they are in separate issues, and at least one of them needs to be from a publication with an ISBN or an ISSN. Digital publications can be submitted, so long as in the case of periodicals they have an ISSN number.

You are also required to submit two pieces of acceptable identification, to prove your identity and mailing address, along with your Social Insurance Number (SIN) for tax reporting. These can be emailed or mailed.

Within eight weeks, verifiers will let you know if they need any further information, otherwise you’ll get an email when your application is approved. If you haven’t completed your application by the end of the calendar year, all incomplete applications are deleted from the system, and reapplication would be required.

In my personal experience, I was welcomed as a creator affiliate within four weeks, and will now be eligible for next year’s base payment.

When is the deadline to apply to be an affiliate?

While there is no deadline to apply, only creators with affiliation applications approved by the end of the calendar year are eligible for the annual payback payment the following year.

There are no retroactive payments for years you were not a member, but you can add older works when you file your first payback claim, which can increase your supplemental payback going forward.

Do I need to file an annual claim? How do I do it?

If you want to be considered for supplemental funds beyond the base payment, you need to file a payback claim.

You’ll get an email in March to remind you to submit your Payback claim for new works in the claim period. You have from the first business day in April through May 31st to submit your claim at:

According to Gilbert, for their first claim, creator affiliates are asked to provide, “the approximate number of pages published for each of the claim years (in 2024, it’s 2003 to 2022) in the following categories: books, magazines, journals and newspapers.”

He says payback claims are based on a 20-year period as their “statistical analysis of copying data shows works published more than 20 years ago are unlikely to be copied under our licences.”

In subsequent years, only the most recent year needs to be added to the claim, or any corrections can be made to previously submitted data, going back 20 years.

How and when are payments made?

Royalties are paid through cheque or direct deposit, but affiliates are encouraged to sign up for direct deposit to save costs.

Creator affiliates may receive up to three payments per year. There is the annual Payback payment distributed in November as well as royalty distributions in June and December, provided that royalties have been received for the copying of the creators’ published work for their distribution.

Do I need to declare income from Access Copyright?

Yes, Access Copyright royalties are considered taxable income. Your SIN is required in the application process, to mail out completed T5 slips to affiliates at the end of February each year.

What if you miss the claim period?

Eligible affiliates who miss the April 1 to May 31 claim period for Payback can make a claim or add to or revise an existing Payback claim during the following year’s claim period.

Bottom line

To help ensure that you are more fairly paid when your work is copied and shared, apply to affiliate with Access Copyright.

How do I contact Access Copyright and learn more?

Posted on April 30, 2024 at 5:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: 

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