Cory Doctorow over at boing boing has a great post about the resale of art in the UK (which he got from Geeklawyer).
The UK is introducing an artist resale right. For those not familiar with it this is a right whereby if a work of art is subsequently sold, even after the initial sale by the artist, he gets a cut, each and every time the work is sold. It is another, continental style, moral right being blended, awkwardly, into the Common Law traditions of the UK.
It is arguably not in the interests of the UK as it has the biggest art resale market in Europe and one wonders what effect it will ultimately have, will all the sales now move to the US?
It’s said that it will protect the vulnerable young artist from predatory collectors, galleries and patrons. It won’t. It won’t always protect him from abusive patrons, since the right only applies to dealings other than between private individuals. If the collector sells to anyone other than a business, or as an act of business, then he won’t be liable to pay the royalty.
Indeed it might even make the position of the vulnerable artist worse. When negotiating the price the buyer may say that since he will have to pay a resale royalty he must pay a lower initial price as compensation for this extra burden.
At a more basic level I don’t see this as anything to do with fairness: if you’re a young artist then you’re probably much more concerned with establishing your reputation than maximising the sale value, though that is of course also important. Any new artist knows the way the market works with virginal talent: this is not like the exploitation of young musicians with onerous contracts; it’s not going to help at all. If we are talking of fairness and rights then what of the buyers rights? Why should he be burdened with the artists luck? It’s thanks to him, and his forbears, being willing to pay more money for the work that the artist is now in the position to ask for yet more money from him.
What i say:
As a wannabe artist I think that the ongoing resale of works is only healthy to my career. I do not wish to profit from the on-selling as I would have profited anyway in terms of the promotion of my own name, my art etc. I mean if someone is going to make a huge profit by reselling one of my works, surely that means that I am already making a profit off current works that i am selling.
This one step back repayment system does nothing to contribute to the value of art. In a way it devalues it by adding emphasis to the money side. I dont make art for money.