Australia Moves Forward With (Weakened) System To Have Artists Paid Multiple Times For Same Artwork

from the down-under-confusion dept

There are a few countries out there that have "artist resale rights," which make little sense and do a lot more to harm artists than help them. Earlier this year, we wrote about plans for Australia to implement such a right and Michael Scott alerts us to the news that a watered down version of the plan is moving forward. If you're unfamiliar with it, the concept is that even after an artist has sold a piece of artwork, such as a painting, if the owners later decide to sell it, they must give back a percentage of the sale price to the original artist. The (faulty) thinking on this is that poor, starving artists sell their paintings or sculptures or whatever for next to nothing, and it's only later, when they're famous, that they're actually worth anything -- but the artist will never get a cut of that value.

Of course, that's not true. In reality, if those earlier works are so valuable, so are many newer works as well -- which the artist can create and sell for much more than ever before. Meanwhile, the problem with an artist resale right is it actually decreases the incentive for anyone to buy the original artwork, knowing that they'll have to sell it for that much more before they can actually make a profit -- since they'll have to kick back fees to the artists. It adds an unnecessary tax that acts as friction in the art market. The Australian plan tries to limit at least some of this issue by only having the resale tax kick in after the second resale. But, of course, this just moves the unnecessary friction up a level, and doesn't change the thought process that goes into the buying decision. With any other product, once you sell it, you've sold it. It makes no sense to allow the original creator to retain a cut of any later sale. Imagine if that were the case with cars or houses as well? Who would ever think that was reasonable?

Filed Under: artists, australia, copyright, resale rights


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 4 Dec 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: artist resale right

    Look, to say no one will buy if the price goes up is crazy

    I didn't say no one will buy. I said it decreases how much will be bought, and how much will be paid for it. That's incontrovertable. You are decreasing the net expected value of a purchase, and that decreases what anyone would pay.

    People buy art because they think the price will go up further. Just check out the art market - collectors and speculators do not buy things because of their rock bottom price, most do not have the courage. They want to get in on the climb and they take risks.

    Sure, but your penalizing new artists by decreasing the value of any rise in price.

    . I don't understand the perspective of penalizing the most creative, rewarding the speculators far beyond their their dreams.

    You're the one in favor of penalizing them. This HARMS up and coming artists.

    e artists with 'no benefits', this provides a basic income for artists. We're talking her about a very small percentage of the rise in value, often under 5% (though I don't know the Australian figures). To say it will kill the art market because no one will buy, well, in Europe where it is the law, the art market has not suffered one iota

    I never said it would kill it. I said it harms it, especially for up and coming artists.

    As for income for artists, if their older works are selling for such high value, so will their newer works -- and then they can capture all of that value.

    I just have to rest my case here

    I note that you didn't respond to the questions (asked by multiple people) if people are expected to pay if the value of the painting goes down as well...

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