Droit de suite, ARR or ARRR ?

The terminology of the artist’s Resale Right has evolved over the years, for translation purposes, due to the specificities of national legislations around the world, but also thanks to the continued research by experts in the field.

It was born as ‘droit de suite’ in France in 1920, this meant the ‘right of following on’ and was derived from French real property law. It was then translated to English as ‘resale right’ before being referred to as the Artist’s Resale Right, abbreviated as ARR, possibly to clarify that the right is intended for artists. There are also other variations, such as the Resale Royalty Right (RRR).  

When drafted in English, most legislations use droit de suite and resale right, as is the case in the European UnionDirective 2001/84/EC.

Recently, during WIPO SCCR 43 which took place from 13th to 17th March 2023, Professor Samuel Ricketson presented the WIPO Toolkit on Artist’s Resale Right, published on 9th March 2023. The document was created to provide guidance to countries on setting up a Resale Right scheme and refers to this right as the Artist’s Resale Royalty Right (ARRR).

The added term ‘royalty’ was traditionally used in other creative sectors such as in the music and audio-visual fields to define the recurring remuneration derived from uses of works until they enter the public domain, for instance for each stream, remix, adaptation etc. When the term is applied to ARR, it emphasizes the disparity in remuneration that can exist between different sectors. A popular song can be streamed billions of times but even the most popular painting can only be resold a limited number of times before it enters the public domain. Moreover, when the sales price crosses a certain threshold, the maximum amount of ARR paid usually remains fixed, hence further limiting the artist’s share. 

Nevertheless, ARR could and should become a consistent source of revenue for artists and their heirs. This becomes even more possible when more countries adopt the right and widen the geographical range of remuneration via reciprocity.

It is important to note that despite the varying terminologies, the emphasis should lie with what all these terms represent which is, the unwaivable right to a percentage from the resale of an artist’s work, which can be perceived as either a remuneration or a royalty.

Ultimately, one must simply note that all these terms represent the same thing. For the sake of consistency, this website will continue to refer to the royalty as ARR, the Artist’s Resale Right.