A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 8: The Australian resale royalty right for visual artists: Indigenous art and social justice
A resale royalty right, or droit de suite (a right to follow), is a legislative instrument under intellectual property law, which enables artists to receive a percentage of the sale price whenever their artistic works are resold. A French legal scholar, Albert Vaunois, first articulated the need for a ‘droit de suite’ in connection with fine art back in 1893. The French Government introduced a scheme to protect the right of resale in 1920, in response to controversy over artists living in poverty while public auction houses were profiting from the resale of their artistic creations. A number of other European countries have established a right of resale. In 2001, the European Council adopted the Artists’ Resale directive and recognised that the ‘artist’s resale right forms an integral part of copyright and is an essential prerogative for authors’. In 2006, the United Kingdom promulgated regulations, giving effect to a right of resale in that jurisdiction. A right of resale has also been introduced in a number of Latin American and African countries. The New Zealand Parliament has debated a bill on a right of resale, but has thus far declined to implement a right of resale regime. The topic of a right of resale has also been debated in China. In the United States, there has been less support for a right of resale amongst legislatures. After lobbying from artists such as the king of pop art, Robert Rauschenberg, the state of California passed the Resale Royalties Act 1977 (California).
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