Artist resale royalty debate to be revived
A new version of a bill to give artists royalties on work resold at auction has been introduced in Congress
By Helen Stoilas. Web only
Published online: 26 February 2014
A bill that that would bring droit de suite, or artist resale rights, to the US is due to be introduced today in Congress and includes a number of changes responding to critics’ concerns with the proposed law, as well as a snappy new name. The American Royalties Too Act (Art for short) recommends that artists should receive a flat 5% of the resale price for works sold at auction for more than $5,000.
An earlier version of the bill, under the title Equity for Visual Artists Act, was introduced by the New York Representative Jerrold Nadler in 2011, but faced stiff opposition from members of the art trade and stalled in committee. The new bill, sponsored by Congressman Nadler in the House and Senators Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) and Edward Markey (Massachusetts) in the Senate, hopes to overcome the usual objections by reducing the royalty rate from 7% to 5% and adding a $35,000 cap on how much artists’ can receive from works that are resold. The law would only apply to works sold publicly at auction at both brick and mortar salerooms and online, bypassing galleries and private deals, which can be difficult to track.
“American artists are being treated unfairly,” says Congressman Nadler, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, in a statement. “At a time when more than 70 other countries properly compensate visual artists for their work, it is time for the United States to do the same. The Art Act will ensure that visual artists get the compensation they deserve and will no longer be at a disadvantage on the international art market. It is the only fair thing to do.”
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