Resale Royalty: Unfair Inequitable

Resale Royalty: Unfair Inequitable   –

The Government recently introduced a resale royalty right.  The way it works is that people who invest in eligible works get to pay the rights holders of those works for sitting around doing nothing.   When intermediate owners improve the work (primarily by publicising it), the rights holder gets to benefit.  The most egregious aspect of this system is that it arbitrarily chooses “artistes” as the receipients of the subsidy.  Exactly why should artistes be entitled to such a payment when others in the economy are not?  Will these artistes be willing to pay a subsidy to the original builder when they buy their home?  Surely the building of a home involves at least as much skill and effort.  Will they pay a subsidy the original cabinetmaker for the antiques they buy to create the right atmosphere for their creative endeavours?  Surely clients should pay lawyers a cut if they rely on advice and make a profit? Surely school teachers should get a pecentage of the future income of the students they teach.  School teachers put a lot of skill and effort in and are a notoriously underpaid sector.

Resale rights are unfair and discriminate in favour of a small sector of the community to the detriment of the balance.  This is an ideology that is out of control.  This sector is in desparate need of an ideology revamp so that “rights holders” have an expectation to secure their income only honestly from their efforts, rather than on the basis of subsidies from the rest of society.

(Of course, the inevitable has happened.  As with all things copyright, the resale right has now gone on the extremism treadmill, with lobbyists already working to extend the scope of this egregious subsidy.  I’ve even been asked to sign a petition in support – I don’t think so. )


3 Responses to “Resale Royalty: Unfair Inequitable”

  1. 1 Painter 9 March 2009 at 10:41 am

    Dear Brenden

    Have you followed the recent developments in Australia and New Zealand. The new National (liberal) government in NZ has just announced that it will shelve the proposed bill. In Australia, the scheme – as best that we can tell at this point until Minister Garrett talks to Parliament – will be non-retrospective, and at the minimum,artists will have a right, on a case-by-case basis, to say ‘NO’ to the collection society. It is quite possible, having read the transcript of the Department’s evidence that in fact it will be the usual mixture of individual self-management and voluntary collective management that is the norm in all other copyrights. Please read the transcripts of the two days proceedings.

    Would like to hear your opinion and is this ‘news’ in the UK?


  2. 2 brendakato 22 April 2009 at 8:51 am

    Droit de suite (resale royalty right)
    Many countries have enacted some form of droit de suite, an economic right entitling visual artist to share in the proceeds each time their works are resold. The resale right has a double premise. One is that works of fine art, whose value typically lies in an original or limited edition, are under-rewarded by copyright whose economics are driven by the prospect of mass distribution. The other is that artist who sell their works at starvation prices should be allowed to share in the work’s increased value on resale. As Professor David Vaver has observed, “In truth, the droit de suite s exceptional in a scheme either of copyright of author’s right: it does not relate to the use of the work, but rather to the obtaining of a share of the profits on resale. Nor is it a right to exclude or to receive compensation on use”
    Learn more here>>

    • 3 brendanscott 1 May 2009 at 11:55 am

      Brenda comments on the justification of the droit de suite. However, my point is that it is applied inquitably. There are plenty of people who “do stuff” which ends up being sold at a great profit later in the distribution chain – and we don’t reward them. The sweatshop workers in SE Asia are a good example. Why shouldn’t these people get a cut of the end sale price of each pair of sneakers they put together? Incidentally, the droit de suite also tends to overcompensate creators based on their fashionability, while undercompensating everyone else.

      I’ve nothing against subsidising creators per se, but the better mechanism is through something direct, responsible and accountable.

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