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DACS chief executive Joanna Cave said: "Thanks to the good cooperation we have experienced from the art trade we're now able to pay artists their royalties. We've collected money from all parts of the UK and from overseas."

A DACS statement said that "distributions will be made during July and artists will see the first tangible results of 10 years of campaigning for the introduction of the right".

One artist who has already received his first cheque from DACS, Scottish painter Peter Howson, said: "I'm really delighted. It feels like justice. I'll probably use the money to buy art materials."

DACS are charging an 18 per cent administration fee, matching the rate applied by the alternative Artists' Collecting Agency, set up by The Bridgeman Art Library.

By Alex Capon