Publications Rights Clearinghouse

The Publications Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a collective licensing agency for writers. It collects royalties on behalf of writers from publishers with whom it has agreements for distributing such royalties.

This is similar to collective licensing for songwriters.

Every time you hear a song played on the radio, the songwriter gets a few cents. The PRC does the same thing for writers. When our work is included in a database, sold over the web, delivered for a fee via fax, or photocopied into a "reader" for use in a classroom, the PRC helps us get the royalties coming to us.

The PRC is a watershed in the history of the National Writers Union---an agency that puts money directly into the pockets of working writers. Through its partnership with SIRS Publishing, Ingenta and the Copyright Clearance Center, the PRC has paid thousands of dollars in royalties to Isabel Allende, Nicholson Baker, Todd Gitlin, Erica Jong, Barbara Kingsolver, and many others.

Most freelance creators are struggling to make a living in the late 20th Century. The PRC is part of the solution.

The premise of the PRC is simple. Writers give the PRC permission to act as their agent in licensing secondary rights to their previously published articles. These articles then become part of the PRC's "inventory."

When the PRC signs an agreement with a secondary user, it collects the copyright fees from that publisher and distributes the royalties to its enrollees. (And writers' agreements with the PRC are non-exclusive, so enrolled writers can still sell their own work whenever they choose.)

"The PRC shows how digital media can be harnessed to redress the power imbalance in the publishing industry," says NWU President Marybeth Menaker. "With the rise of digital media, publishers and databases are constantly reusing the intellectual property of freelancers, often without permission."

"Through the PRC, we are fighting corporations engaging in massive copyright infringement. We are demanding, on behalf of thousands of writers, that these corporations pay to license the right to reuse freelance work."

The PRC is open to all writers and it is free to join. Some programs, however, such as our agreement with SIRS Publishing, also require that writers be members of the National Writers Union.

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