New Academic Study Proposes a Framework for a New Treaty on the Visual Artists' Resale Right

Professor Sam Ricketson Joins Renowned Visual Artists José de Guimarães and Hervé Di Rosa in Launching the Study at WIPO in Geneva

In Geneva today, copyright law specialists from around the world gathered at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for a presentation of a new academic study on the Visual Artists' Resale Right.

Download the study here.

Hosted by CISAC, Groupement Européen des Sociétés d'Auteurs et Compositeurs (GESAC) and European Visual Artists (EVA), the event included a presentation of the study’s key findings by its author, Professor Sam Ricketson, introductory remarks from National Copyright Administration of China Copyright Management Department Director General Mr YU Cike and a panel with two internationally renowned visual artists, Hervé Di Rosa and José de Guimarães.

The Visual Artists' Resale Right ensures that creators receive a small percentage of the resale price when their works of art are resold by an auction house or an art gallery. Adopted by more than 80 states to date, the right is not yet recognized by the world’s two largest art markets, China and the USA, both of which are now considering its adoption.

In the afternoon prior to the event, a delegation made of CISAC Director General Gadi Oron; ADAGP Director General Marie-Anne Ferry-Fall; French visual artist Hervé Di Rosa and Professor Sam Ricketson was received by WIPO Director General Françis Gurry. They presented the study and discussed the importance of the visual artists' resale right.

A few hours later, the event opened with an introduction from Mr Oron, who highlighted the need for a new international framework on the resale right. Next spoke Mr Yu, who gave an overview of the situation in China today.  Having worked on the pending copyright legislation in China, Mr Yu informed delegates that the Chinese government supports the introduction of the resale right for visual artists into the new law.

Sam Ricketson then presented the key findings of his study. A professor at Melbourne University's Law School, he has written and taught extensively in all areas of IP law and was a consultant to the Australian Law Reform Commission.

This goes some distance towards correcting the imbalance that otherwise exists between the rights of visual artists and those enjoyed by other categories of authors,” said Mr Ricketson. “Global adoption would also offset the disparities that creators face when their works are sold in countries that do not recognize the resale right.

In addition to laying out the arguments in favour of a new treaty on the resale right, Professor Ricketson outlined the international legal protection currently in place and provided a framework for the international new treaty.

The floor was then turned over to two renowned visual artists. José de Guimarães, one of Portugal’s most awarded creators and an active member of the Portuguese Society of Authors (SPA), spoke first.  His work is exhibited in museums all across Europe, USA, Brazil, Canada, Israel and Japan.

Referencing a recent $1bn visual art sale in the US, Mr de Guimarães asked,

Do we believe that those who will spend a billion dollars to buy art works, often for speculative purposes, can not afford a small percentage to be paid to creators?

He said that the petition in favour of the universal adoption of the resale right through an international treaty has to date gathered more than 15,000 signatures. “We are not alone” he concluded.

The last speaker was Hervé Di Rosa. A French visual artist recognized as one of the founders of the “Free Figuration” movement, Mr Di Rosa is also Vice-President of the French visual arts society ADAGP and Chair of the International Council of Creators of Graphic, Plastic and Photographic Arts (CIAGP).

Mr Di Rosa focused on the equality that this right brings to visual creators and stressed its simplicity and effectiveness. He explained how an artist justly benefiting from a sale in one territory but being denied this right in another is entirely contradictory to the realities of the global art market that exists today. He closed with a call to arms for his fellow creators.

As artists, we have a duty to fight for this just and necessary cause,” he said. “It helps to guarantee that any living artist or their descendants may share in the proceeds from the resale of their works and provides essential investment into our culture.

The Resale Right study is available for download here.

For more background into the campaign, the Visual Artists' Resale Right brochure is available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese.