US Lawmakers Give Artist Resale Rights Another Look

Dollar Sign (Yellow) (1981) by Andy Warhol.

The oft-debated but never resolved issue of artist resale rights in the US will be up for discussion at the House of Representatives today, July 15.

In hearings scheduled for 1 p.m. this afternoon, the Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property is planning to focus specifically on moral rights, termination rights, resale royalties, and copyright term. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the subcommittee’s top Democrat, plans to use the session to advance his bill to pay royalties to visual artists when their work is resold by an auctioneer, collector, or other third party.

In a statement emailed to artnet News, Nadler said: “We should join the 70 other countries who provide a resale royalty right in an effort to fairly compensate visual artists.” His American Royalties Too (ART) Act, introduced in February, would ensure that American artists get some royalties when their work is resold either in the US or abroad. “My bill attempts to correct an existing injustice and would help American artists wherever their works are sold—whether it be in New York, London, or Paris.” The ART act would provide for a resale royalty of five percent (but not to exceed $35,000) to be paid to the artist for every work of visual art sold for more than $5000 at public auction.

Nadler’s legislation came on the heels of a Copyright Office report supporting the notion of a resale royalty in the US. Karyn Claggett, head of policy and international affairs at the Copyright Office, will make the case again on Tuesday. “The issue of resale royalties is at its core an issue of fundamental fairness,” she said in written testimony. “[T]here is a compelling international trend that makes U.S. review of the resale royalty right timely and important.”

The Artists Rights Society, under the leadership of founder and president Dr. Theodore Feder, is unique in its role as proponent and defender of interests of fine artists. ARS is a key supporter of Rep. Nadler’s ART Act.

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