notePad: Professional Development

By Peggy Roalf   Friday November 9, 2018

As an author of books published in the UK who receives royalty payments—not only on book sales but also on fees paid for photocopying pages from my books, in libraries—I was excited to learn about the American Society for Collective Rights Licensing [ASCRL].

ASCRL,  a membership organization based in Washington, D.C., is the only 501 C-6 not for profit tax exempt rights holder administered Content Management Organization in the US. Established by authors and rights holders, ASCRL collects foreign payments for visual works that are mandated by foreign law, and distributes those payments to ASCRL members.

The situation is complex, but this is basically how it works:

When ASCRL’s foreign sister societies determine that some part of the funds that are collected in their country should properly be distributed to visual artists and photographers in another country, rather than their own, they rely on sister societies, such as ASCRL, to properly distribute the funds to the visual artists and photographers in the other countries. Based on its existing agreements with these foreign societies, ASCRL represents the interests of visual artist and photographer rights owners in the U.S.

For this purpose, ASCRL is active throughout the world in establishing bilateral agreements with foreign societies that may have funds distributable for U.S. authors.  It is then ASCRL’s mission to distribute the funds to the visual artists and photographers. ASCRL’s first distributions are scheduled to take place for the 2017 calendar year during the first half of 2018.More on how it works here

Membership in ASCRL is free, based on a submission process including examples of published work. Once ASCRL calculates a member’s claim, those reprographic funds will be collected by ASCRL and disbursed to the claimant.

To Join ASCRL, go here Photo above © Vincent Laforet, from ASCRL website


One of NYC’s most hardworking organizations dedicated to protecting artist’s rights is Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA). Now in its 50th year, VLA is the leading legal aid and education organization dedicated to New York artists and its arts and cultural organizations. VLA provides legal services to the arts community in every discipline, from animation to video game design and just about everything in between.*

Even if you do not currently have a legal issue, as an artist you have a business, and it's important that you are aware of the important legal issues so that you can protect your work, rights, and livelihood. VLA offers exciting educational programs taught by experts in the field on a variety of topics including contracts, copyright, licensing, fair use, estate planning, industry-specific legal issues in music, film, photography, dance and more! 

VLA’s outreach programs include programs such as these:

-Facilitation of pro bono legal representation for low-income artists 
-Legal counseling, education programs, advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution services to the entire arts community
-Training lawyers to better serve the arts community.

For more information on VLA’s  services and programs, please visit If you would like to request legal services, please fill out a request form here and a member of their legal services team will be in touch with you.

Among the upcoming seminars at VLA are Music Rights in Filmmaking (tonight); Navigating Legal Issues in the Social Media Sphere; and Alternative Fundraising (crowdfunding). Info Photo above from VLA Instagram site

*Including: acting, animation, architectural design, bookmaking, choreography, composition, computer design, costume design, craft and folk arts, dance, directing, fashion, film, graphic design, installation art, literary arts, modeling, multimedia, music, photography, playwriting, poetry, printmaking, screenwriting, songwriting, theater, three-dimensional design, video arts, video game design, visual arts, and web design.


One of the most visible artists rights organizations in NYC is New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)—a  nonprofit service organization that provides the concrete resources that working artists and emerging arts organizations need to thrive. NYFA was established in 1971 as an independent nonprofit service organization to serve individual artists throughout New York State. Since then it has extended its programs and services throughout the United States and the international community. 

As well as organizing and administering fiscal sponsorship through grants, awards and mentoring programs, NYFA has numerous resources online, such as classifieds for jobs and artist opportunities, a Fiscal Sponsorship Directory, and both live and online education and training. photo above from

NYFA runs many professional development programs on subjects such as customizing your resume, creating a representative online profile, and seminars on subjects such as music licensing, launching an arts organization, and one-on-one coaching on specialized subjects.

Among the upcoming webinars is Copyright 101, presented by Elissa D. Hecker, contributor to The Profitable Artist. The webinar will run on November 20 from 6:30 to 8 pm and costs $25. According to the listing, this workshop will provide an introduction to the basics of U.S. Copyright law and highlight types of licensing and the fair use defense. If you create, use, appropriate, produce, or commission, then this workshop is for you. Info




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