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Artist resale right legislation introduced

Hon Judith Tizard
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Associate Minister of Commerce

13 May 2008
Media Statement

Artist resale right legislation introduced

Legislation that seeks to ensure a fair economic deal for artists and provide enhanced protection of their intellectual property, has today been introduced to Parliament.

The Copyright (Artists’ Resale Right) Amendment Bill was introduced today by Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister, Judith Tizard. The Bill would establish a royalty payment scheme for artworks resold on the secondary art market.

"This legislation draws on many months of public discussion, and the experience of similar schemes overseas," Judith Tizard said.

It entitles visual artists to receive a royalty payment each time an original art work is resold commercially, through any auction house, gallery, dealer, or other intermediary or professional involved in the business of dealing in works of art. It does not apply to private art sales or to sales of less than $500 value.

The introduction of the Bill follows a discussion paper released in April 2007, which invited the public to feedback on options for a resale right for visual artists. A total of 202 submissions were received on the discussion paper, with the majority favouring the introduction of a scheme.

“A resale right is really about giving artists a fair deal in terms of the economic returns they get from their work. Very few visual artists are able to make a living from their art alone,” says Judith Tizard.

The Bill would create a 5 percent royalty for the artist who created the work and they would receive a payment when and if the work was resold for $500 or more. The right is inalienable and cannot be contracted out of or shared with anyone other than another artist who helped create the work.

The right can be left to others under the artist’s will. Royalties will be due on artistic work sold during the artist’s lifetime, and on works sold for 50 years after the artist’s death – the same period that applies to copyright under the Copyright Act 1994.

Similar systems operate in a number of countries overseas, including most of Europe and in the United Kingdom. In Australia, a resale right is expected to be introduced by 2009. A resale right does not apply to the first sale or transfer of an artistic work and it does not apply to sales of artistic work between private individuals.

In New Zealand, royalties will be collected by a single agency which will be entitled to request information from those selling or buying works of art. The Bill proposes that the right will apply to artists who are residents or citizens of New Zealand, and to artists who are nationals of reciprocating countries that offer a similar resale right to nationals of New Zealand.

“In tackling this issue, government is honouring an election promise to examine international developments relating to a resale right and its possible application to New Zealand.

“We are demonstrating our international commitment, under an optional clause in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and also engaging with like-minded countries that enable their artists to have an ongoing benefit from their artistic work.

“The only way creative New Zealanders will be able to make a living from their work is if we protect and respect the work here and work internationally to get reciprocal recognition for New Zealanders across the world,” says Judith Tizard.

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