A new UK law on resale rights (the Artist’s Resale Right Regulations 2006) came into force in 2006 to give artists a royalty, calculated as a percentage of the sale price, each time their work is sold.
The regulations implement Directive 2001/84/EC of the European Parliament on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art and apply only to European Economic Area nationals.
The creation of this new intellectual property, the artist's resale right, is an attempt to put artists on an equal footing with other authors of copyright works such as writers and recording artists, by ensuring they receive a royalty on sales of their work.
It’s not exactly a new concept - Resale Royalty Rights already exist in over 30 countries worldwide. The concept originates from the French 'Droit de Suite' introduced after the First World War to benefit the families of destitute artists.
The Regulations apply to works of “graphic or plastic art [the term applied to shaping or modelling, carving and sculpture]”. A non-exhaustive list of such works is set out in the Regulations. These include paintings, drawings, pictures, collages, engravings, prints, lithographs, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics, glassware and even photographs. Copies of such works do not qualify for a resale right unless limited in quantity and made by or with the authority of the author.
The author of a work of art will have a 'resale right', entitling them to a royalty on any sale of the work following on from the initial sale or transfer. The right will exist from the time the work of art is created until 70 years after the death of the artist (the same duration as copyright).
Recently, the New Zealand Government has foreshadowed that they will be looking at artists’ resale rights and a number of other efforts to protect and improve the incomes of artists.
Although many New Zealand artists have advocated adopting a similar legislative model, saying it will bring artists' rights more closely in line with those of musicians and writers, there is genuine concern within the wider UK art community that the new legislation will inadvertently encourage owners of original works of art to instead sell their works in overseas markets such as Switzerland and the US, where sales are not subject to any resale right. Alternatively, more sales may take place privately, as the royalty does not apply to private sales.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime and died in poverty, whereas his paintings now sell for millions. It is hoped that despite its detractors, the UK’s new legislation will enable a new generation of Van Gogh’s to share in the economic success of their works.
For more information on patents or any other intellectual property issues please email Colleen Cavanagh or call Colleen on 64 9 916 8646.
This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.