Resale royalty right discussed on world stage



Visual artists Romuald Hazoumé and Julio Carrasco Breton at the World Intellectual Property Organisation's international conference Photo: © Eilon Paz

In May, the World Intellectual Property Organisation hosted an international conference on the visual artists’ resale right. This landmark event was a milestone in the global campaign to promote international adoption of the right.

The Copyright Agency | Viscopy’s Judy Grady presented evidence from Australia’s resale scheme via Skype, to the many artists, policy makers, academics, society representatives and art market professionals who attended the event.

She said, “After six and a half years, the Resale Royalty Right for visual artists has generated over $5 million in royalties for 1355 artists from more than 14,000 resales. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists are greatly benefitting from the scheme.”

Judy presented a testimonial from Aboriginal artist Nyurpaya Kaika, who works from the Tjala Arts Centre in the APY Lands, who wrote: “It’s fair that when the work is sold, that there is a royalty for the Aboriginal artist who is still in community, working hard on their artwork, and trying to make a better future for their kids. This resale royalty might be important for all artists, but it is really important for Aboriginal artists.”

The conference highlighted the growing momentum towards adoption of the right and called Member States to continue with formal discussions on an international framework, to complement the Berne Convention and help visual artists worldwide.

Director-General of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, Gadi Oron, said, “The resale right is a source of income for many visual artists around the world. It exists in 80 countries but not in many important art markets like China, the US, and Japan. We want to promote international recognition and adoption of the right so that visual artists can benefit from the right wherever they are.”

The President of the CIAGP International Council of Visual Artists, Herve de Rosa, said, “The resale right helps us get past difficult moments. We don’t earn a salary, we are not office workers, we don’t have retirement accounts. We need to join forces to defend our rights.”

Emilie Mermillod of Seydoux and Associes Fine Art Geneva, said, “I have never encountered any reticence from a seller to pay the resale right. Normally it is the seller who needs to pay the resale right, and they are often, I would not say happy, because it is an amount to be paid out, but they totally understand. They often do it with pleasure.”

An Independent Art Dealer from Dakar, Ngone Fall, said “If there’s no artist, there are no artworks. If there are no art works, all of us are out of a job. So, it’s time to give respect and to acknowledge that we are all making a living out of the work of somebody else, and that is the artist.”

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