Renowned Visual Artist Ousmane Sow Takes the Campaign in Favour of a Global Resale Right to WIPO

WIPO Delegates Hear Why the Resale Right is Fair and Essential to Visual Artists' Livelihoods

On 9 October, experts in the field of authors’ rights joined world-renowned Senegalese sculptor and CISAC Vice President Ousmane Sow to present at a session on the Visual Artists' Resale Right at WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland.

The discussion "Resale Right: Making it Work for Visual Artists" took place in a context that will see WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) open discussions toward a new international treaty on this right at its next plenary session before the end of the year.

From the origins and inner workings of the right to its implementation in 81 countries around the world, the group demonstrated why the universal adoption of this fundamental right is vital.

Sow, whose works have been displayed from Senegal to Germany, France, Italy and the United States, explained,

When I started, I did not know whether I'd be able to live from my art. Today in Africa, the situation is still the same for many artists.  They need to be supported."

The Visual Artists' Resale Right ensures that visual artists receive a small percentage of the price when their original work of art is resold by an auction house or an art gallery.

French visual arts authors’ society ADAGP Director General Marie-Anne Ferry-Fall gave a detailed overview of how the right was started back in 1920, how it works and why it is paramount that it be universally adopted across five continents.

The art market is worth $16 billion per year yet visual artists are generally the poorest creators as there is no industry behind them,” said Ferry-Fall. “The Resale Right operates on a reciprocity condition so is only granted to the artist when their country recognises it – this creates a huge imbalance between authors globally.”

Spanish authors’ society VEGAP Director General Javier Gutiérrez Vicén stressed the importance of the efficient collective management organisations in the visual arts sector.

Visual artists don’t have an industry behind them,” he said. “They are their own impresarios. The only way they can stand for themselves is through authors’ societies”.

CISAC Director General Gadi Oron said,

We want to support the increasing voices within WIPO that believe this topic should be placed on the agenda of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.  Our goal is simply to ensure that wherever they are in the world, all visual artists get the same fair share in the success of their works.”

In addition to the economic argument, the resale right also maintains the essential link between the creator and their work. It enables the visual artist to follow their work.

Sow concluded,

Endorsing the resale right would be a way to show respect for creators."