We've discussed in the past how various countries have been putting in place a ridiculous resale right
for artists, that allow them to collect a royalty every time their artwork is sold. In other words, this removes the important right of first sale, that says when someone buys a piece of artwork, they actually own it. Instead, these "resale rights" let various artists collect a "royalty" every time the art is resold. That would be like saying you need to pay Honda a royalty after you sold your used car. Reader madlep
points out that Australia has now gone down the same road and instituted a 5% fee on any resold artwork
for the artist.
The Arts Minister who supported this is apparently Peter Garrett, who some of you may recognize as the lead singer of the popular rock band Midnight Oil
(who I saw in concert many, many years ago). He claims that: "It's a really, really good day for Australia's artists," but that betrays a rather troubling lack of understanding of basic economics. Adding this resale right, actually serves to significantly depress the market for these artists that he's supposedly trying to protect. Because any buyer now knows that there's an additional tax on any resale, meaning that they're less willing to purchase in the first place (or only interested in purchasing for a lower price). It also makes them a lot less willing to sell the piece, because the selling price now needs to be even higher. On top of this, it will encourage more sales to be to foreign countries, where this "right" does not apply.
Garrett is also confused in saying: "Why should artists not have had the opportunity for some copyright protection of their work, or equivalent rights that writers, for example, have?" There's a very easy answer to that. Copyright protection is designed to deal with the issues of copies
, not the original works. When it comes to these artists, they're selling original works. And, when I put my old Midnight Oil tapes and CDs up for sale, I'm certainly hoping that Garrett doesn't expect to get paid again for them. That would just be silly. He already received the money when I purchased them originally -- just as these artists received their money when their artwork was purchased.