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Monday, February 21, 2005

Artists to Earn From Resold Work

If a Francis Bacon painting is sold in France a percentage of the sale goes to Mr. Bacon's heir, but if a painting by Matisse is sold in the UK, Henri's heirs receive nothing. This is because to date France has a "Droit de Suite" for artists, and the UK has not. Note that it is unfortunate rather than relevant that both artists in the example are dead.

However, benefitting the producers of paintings, photographs, sculptures and other unique works of art, the UK is finally getting ready to implement the European Directive recognizing Artists' Resale Rights that first came into effect all the way back in 2001.

On a degrading scale Artists will soon reap a portion of the profits made when their works are traded or resold, the UK Patent Office announced last week.

In France and many other European countries, artists are already paid a percentage of the resale proceeds under a "Droit de Suite" for as long as copyright protects the work: up to seventy years after the death of the artist. The Directive will make little difference to those countries but the UK has dithered because of concerns of impact on the art trading industry itself.

Peter Lawrence, Director of Intellectual Property & Innovation at the Patent Office believes: "Britain has an art-trading tradition which is the envy of the world. We also have world-class artisans who deserve fair reward for their creativity. This new "Artists Resale Right" must balance the needs of artists with the concerns of the art trade, and that is why its implementation must be done transparently and sensitively."

It is for this reason - specifically to prevent art sales moving to the US in avoidance of paying royalties, to be honest - that the percentage for artist decreases as the value for the sale increases, and has an upper limit on the royalty payable on a single work of art of €12,500.

The table of royalties due for the portion of the resale Price (in Euro):

4.00% … up to 50,000
3.00% … between 50,000 and 200,000
1.00% … between 200,000 and 350,000
0.50% … between 350,000 and 500,000
0.25% … in excess of 500,000

This means a work of art would need to be resold for more than €1,000,000 to reach the cap on the maximum royalty payable.

The final delay for the UK is to facilitate a consulation process with artists and art dealers about how exactly to implement the law. In particular the UK Patents Office wants to know:
Should the lower limit on the resale price, below which the artist will not enjoy a resale royalty, be set at €3,000 or lower? It's a sort of a "No Artist Left Behind" scheme, with the exception of the artists we can't afford to take with us.

European countries which did not have any Artists' Resale Right or Droit de Suite prior to the Directive are: Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

This has persuaded me to paint furiously and ship paintings for token amounts to people in the UK. Then in five years' time I shall do something unspeakable on the world stage, gaining notoreity unconnected with art. Instant booming trade in formerly cheapo paintings. Massive bucks. Royalties. Verne wins.

Repeat plan every five to ten years as necessary.

Paul Dorrell says "I rarely charge a copyright fee, since I feel that the exposure is what's most important, and I don't care to complicate the deal."


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