Round-up of recent events focusing on the Resale Right

The last weeks were marked by quite a few notable events focused on promoting the Resale Right in two of the most important and biggest markets at present: USA and China. Last but not least, South Africa has introduced an amendment Bill where it plans to introduce the royalty.

      30 June – WIPO – Geneva

    Under the organization of CISAC, GESAC (Groupement Europeen des Societes d’Auteurs et Compositeurs) and EVA (European Visual Artists), a panel consisting of two internationally renowned visual artists (Hervé Di Rosa and José de Guimarães), law specialists from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), together with Professor Sam Ricketson (Melbourne University Law School) and mr. Yu Cike, Director General of the Copyright Management Department of the National Copyright Administration of China, gathered to discuss the stakes surround the Resale Right Royalty.

Mr. Yu CiKe, upon giving an overview of the current status in China, informed the panelists that the Chinese government supports the introduction of the artists’ resale right into the new law.

     Mr. Ricketson outlined a set of strong arguments in favor of the global adoption of the Resale Right “Global adoption would also offset the disparities that creators face when their works are sold in countries that do not recognize the resale right.” […] “This goes some distance towards correcting the imbalance that otherwise exists between the rights of visual artists and those enjoyed by other categories of authors,”

     Aiming to provide the opinion of the artists as well, the event was then focused on the view of the famous artists Hervé Di Rosa andJosé de Guimarães. Mr. de Guimarães, one of Portugal’s most awarded creators, referred to the record-breaking rise of the art market ($1bn threshold was surpassed in a single week by Christie’s in May 2015) asking “Do we believe that those who will spend a billion dollars to buy art works, often for speculative purposes, can not afford a small percentage to be paid to creators?”

Mr. Di Rosa, one of the founders of the “Free Figuration” movement and vice-president of the French Visual Arts society ADAGP and Chair of the CIAGP (International Council of Creators of Graphic, Plastic and Photographic Arts), upon underlining the efficiency and fairness of the act, closed with a call for action in defending this right

“As artists, we have a duty to fight for this just and necessary cause, […] It helps to guarantee that any living artist or their descendants may share in the proceeds from the resale of their works and provides essential investment into our culture.

A delegation from China was also hosted in Paris by CISAC on the 10th of July with talks about resale right being on the agenda.

A more detailed coverage of the event can be found on CISAC News

       22 July – USA – New York

In a public forum organized by the activist organization W.A.G.E and hosted by Artists Space, the focus on the proposed ART Actintroduced by New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler has brought together prominent figures of the world of art, from Theodore Feder and Janet Hicks (ARS – Artists Rights Society), artists Hans Haacke and R.H. Quaytman, art historian Lauren van Haaften-Schick, art dealer Maxwell Graham of the gallery Essex Street, and Barbara Jaffe, an acting Justice of the New York Supreme Court.

The ART Act (American Royalties Too) – introduced to Congress in 2015 proposes artists to be paid a 5% royalty for each auction sale, applying to works sold for over $5.000 with $35.000 maximum threshold for royalty payment.

The discussion started with a short introduction of the Resale Right by Theodore Feder, president of ARS and an active supporter of the vital right for over 20 years. Upon highlighting that the EU has set a solid precedent in this regard, the introduction of the ART Act within the US would lead to reducing the inequalities between visual artists and auction houses.

With US artists being deprived of such an act however, they have come up with non-legislative measures such as the Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement (ARRTSA) – a legal contract that states that the artist will receive 15% royalty on any profit made upon selling of her or his work.

The main achievement of the event was however the increased interest of the audience as concerns the Artists’ Resale Right both as an act as well as a general right. Hyperallergic, covering the event, has concluded that “this issue is starting to gain real traction”.

The detailed coverage of the event can be found on Hyperallergic or TheArtNewspaper.

       27 July – South Africa

The South African Government Gazette of 27 July 2015 includes a Bill aiming at amending certain provisions of the Copyright Act 98 of 1978, including a provision concerning the introduction of the Resale Right.

Sections 7 A to C of the said Bill spell a more favorable financial standing for the visual artists in the long run: under a given set of conditions pertaining to citizenship, validity of the right and time of the transaction, they can receive an inalienable resale royalty of 5% of the commercial resale price (or as prescribed by the Minister).

European Visual Artists welcomes the steps taken in the direction of ensuring that the Art Market provides for a fairer appreciation of the artists’ efforts in their craft, especially with regard to efforts put by the South African policymakers to assure legal certainty (by defining the term “craft works” to which the Resale Right shall be applied) as well as ensuring certainty with regard to the medium and parties where the transaction occurs. Additionally, the royalty has no upper or lower threshold regarding the value of the work, which means all eligible transactions will bear the royalty.

As written comments on the contents of the Bill may be submitted up to 27.08.2015, EVA intends to point out the necessity of introducing an information right for the purpose of acquiring the necessary information on the transactions and mandatory collective management – a vital requirement for efficient management of the works, especially in the international layers of the Art Market.