Twice in the last four years, a bill has been filed to adopt what is known as droit de suite, or resale royalty, in which an artist would be entitled under certain circumstances to a royalty on sales after the initial one. The most common justifications for these bills relate to fairness and uniformity. As to the first, many artists’ works do not become valuable until later in their careers, long after the works had been sold first. These artists, the argument goes, should share in the benefit of their increased regard. The uniformity argument has to do with droit de suite in other countries, though that is hardly a clear picture and many residents of those countries object to what they say is the effect on their local markets.
Topics: Equity for Visual Artists Act of 2011, Resale Royalties, Ed Markey, American Royalties Too Act, Chuck Close, Resale Royalty, Jerrold Nadler, Christie's, Tammy Baldwin, California Resale Royalties Act, Copyright, United States Copyright Office, Sotheby's, eBay, Art Law Report
Although there are no definitive signs yet of likely change, the question of secondary royalties for visual artists remains far from resolved. The most comprehensive effort to date, the California Resale Royalties Act was declared unconstitutional in 2012 by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in lawsuit brought by Chuck Close and others against Christie’s, eBay, and Sotheby’s. That decision is on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
Topics: Equity for Visual Artists Act of 2011, Resale Royalties, American Royalties Too Act, Chuck Close, Resale Royalty, Jerrold Nadler, Christie's, Tammy Baldwin, California Resale Royalties Act, Copyright, United States Copyright Office, Sotheby's, eBay
The United States Copyright Office solicited public comment last year on possible droite de suite, or resale royalty legislation. As addressed previously, state law attempts to regulate artists’ rights to resale royalties have been struck down as unconstitutional. Among the issues that the Copyright Office grappled with is the basic question of incentive: if a copyright royalty were paid on sales subsequent to the first sale, what effect does that have on the economic incentive to create art? Who benefits? Who is harmed?
In place of rumored legislative efforts last summer, legislation has been formally introduced to codify under U.S. federal law droite de suite rights of resale for artists, under certain circumstances.