There has been more talk of an artists royalty scheme in Australia, where artists (or their family if they are dead) receive a small percentage each time their work is resold in the future.
The Sydney Morning Herald says “It (the government) is determined to introduce a resale royalty scheme this year giving artists a percentage of the sale price whenever their work is sold. The details have yet to be finalised but some industry bodies have called for a flat rate of 5 per cent on all sales and for the royalty to apply to all works sold for more than $500. That would mean an artist who sold a work 10 years ago for $500 could reap up to $10,000 if it was sold again for 200,000.”
For a simple explanation of what artist royalties are, the ArtsLaw website says “Resale royalties, sometimes called droit de suite, are a scheme whereby visual artists get a percentage of the increase in the sale price of their work each time it is resold. Resale royalty schemes exist in parts of Europe and the United States. These schemes came into existence out of a recognition that visual artists are not able to earn money from the licensing of their works as easily as other artists, such as composers and authors. This is because the primary value of a visual artwork usually attaches to the original work. Consequently, visual artists disproportionately miss out on making royalties from licensing the reproduction of their work.”
I’m still yet to be convinced that artists deserve royalties on original art that is resold in the future. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course I would never refuse royalties myself, but I would be giggling every time I received a royalty check/cheque as it would be money for nothing.
Why stop at artists receiving royalties? Why not extend it to house builders, car makers, and any other product that is resold for profit? If we sell our paintings at a price we believe is fair today, why should we profit again when it resold tomorrow? If the value of a painting goes down and it is resold, do artists have to pay a penalty fee to the art investor?
I also don’t see the connection with the royalties that a writer or musician receives as their art is consumed differently. A painter should receive royalties for mass produced prints and posters as he/she created the original art, but after the product is sold, it is sold.. meaning it no longer belongs to the seller.
I do think artists are special (I have to say that as I am an artist), but I don’t think we operate outside the laws of gravity. We can’t sell something and still own it at the same time.