Is Copyright Clearance Center A Scam?

Image of the Copyright SymbolLast week one of the website owners that I work with came to me with, what by all accounts looked like an obvious scam: A check in the amount of $350 from Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) for “royalties” collected on content in her website.

We had never signed up for Copyright Clearance Center or any other copyright protection service and had never even heard of CCC so free money from nowhere was a big scam red-flag.


The CCC check had this enclosed letter:

Dear Rightsholder:
Your royalty payment is now available from Copyright Clearance Center’s pay-per-use and Foreign Authorizations services. In response to suggestions from rightsholders and as part of our regular efforts to implement efficiencies:

  • We are combining your pay-per-use royalties with your title-specific Foreign Authorizations Service royalties. Related royalty reports will be available in RightsCenteral on the Royalty Reports screen.
  • Once each year, we lower the minimum payment to $50. The minimum threshold for this payment is $50. Royalties below the minimum are rolled forward until the next applicable minimum is met.

Your pay-per-use payment included royalties collected on your behalf from content users who paid for the right to do one or more of the following:

  • Photocopy excerpts of your works
  • Electronically reproduce and distribute excerpts of your works, such as posting to an intranet or extranet
  • Republish excerpts of your works
  • Photocopy excerpts from your works for inclusion in academic course packs
  • Use digitized versions of your copyrighted content in electronic academic course materials, electronic reserves and distance learning

Your Foreign Authorizations Service royalties were collected by foreign Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs) for the use of your work(s) in their countries. These royalties have been forwarded to CCC for distribution to you.

if you have signed up for our Automated Clearing House (ACH) service, this letter signifies that we are processing your electronic payment.

Access your Royalty Reports in RightsCentral
To access and download the royalty reports that correspond to your payment, please log in to our secure portal, RightCentral at This secure portal enables you to:

  • View and download your royalty distribution reports, including RightsLink title-level reports
  • Manage your titles and fees
  • Review open permission requests via the Grant Permissions module
  • Check our royalty payment schedule, service FAQs and more

if you don’t have a RightsCentral account, please contact Customer Service at (978) 646-2800, Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern Time. Please use the sign up form at or email
Matthew Pedersen
Senior Manager, Rightsholder Relations

Everything in the letter made sense, and it didn’t have the misspellings and 3rd grade grammar level of the typical scam email – No fine print, no requirement to buy or sign up for anything, just a check which as far as we could tell, was real.

Check from Copyright Clearance Center
Real check from Copyright Clearance Center. Click for larger view

After a few minutes of research we were able to determine that (as best as we could tell), Copyright Clearance Center is not a scam but a legitimate organization the collects copyright royalties (as described in the letter above) and then gets those Copyright payments to the original copyright owner.  And considering that they were able to find this website owner, I would say that CCC is doing a decent job.

Have you ever received a Copyright Clearance Center payment or have you even heard of CCC?  I am now considering creating a (free) account with them just to make getting my royalties to me easier.

3 thoughts on “Is Copyright Clearance Center A Scam?

  1. I just got a letter from them wanting a W-9 to be filled out. So just what gives them the right to collect money on another’s copyright (of which they will keep 30%)? I have certainly not engaged them as my agent.

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