UK Looking To Ditch Right Of First Sale On Artwork?

from the bad,-bad-ideas dept

We’ve written in the past about how the “right of first sale” is a big area where tangible goods and non-tangible goods have problems matching up. Pro-copy protection advocates like to claim that things like copyrights make digital goods “just like” physical goods. However, as soon as you bring up the right of first sale, which would let the person who bought the product do what they want with it (sell it, destroy it, change it, give it away, etc.) we’re told that doesn’t apply — proving that copyright law doesn’t actually make digital goods just like tangible goods. Of course, it looks like the UK is trying to take a massive step in the wrong direction to deal with this issue. BoingBoing points out that the UK is considering an “artist resale right,” which basically overrides the right of first sale. The artist resale right would mean that any time his or her artwork is sold, even after the first sale, the artist gets a cut. It’s actually trying to take some of the limitations of digital goods and move them back out to physical goods — which is a backwards proposition. It also makes the artwork in question that much less valuable by adding this unnecessary restriction to it — basically saying that the original creator of something always owns some component of it. If the artist wants to try to sell their artwork with that restriction on it, then they can do that, but to have such restrictions forced on them by law seems dangerous. The article above also discusses the various ways in which this won’t help artists and will likely just drive some of the art market out of the UK, but what’s most scary about it is the further attempt to erode the right of first sale by taking concepts from digital goods protection and trying to move them to tangible goods. It’s a step down a dangerous path.

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Comments on “UK Looking To Ditch Right Of First Sale On Artwork?”

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Pete Austin says:

Too Late!

Unfortunately it’s too late for UK Citizens to comment, as the closing date was 16 May 2005. Consultation.

Personally I think one real problem is defining “original works of art” in a digital age. Also the right is not assignable to another person, so if this applies to open source software, then as I read the draft regulations (PDF) thousands of authors could be due miniscule amounts of money from every sale.

Geeklawyer (user link) says:

Re: To Avoid this Fee

I’d have to say I agree. I can only assume the administrative overheads rule against the lease/rent idea. From a legal perspective this is an ideal solution. Of course with DRM etc. DRM + paracopright achieve the functional effectiveness of leasing *and* the financial benefits, to the corporation, of ownership: maximal revenue minimal overheads.

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