Jeremy Eccles | 14.04.10

Author: Jeremy Eccles
News source: press release

Arts Minister Peter Garrett announced on April 7th that Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) was the successful tenderer to act as the collecting society to implement and administer the resale royalty scheme for visual artists.

“CAL has 20 years experience collecting and paying royalties to creators (of published work). This will be invaluable to the establishment and roll out of the new scheme,” Mr Garrett said.
“The implementation of a resale royalty scheme is a really significant result for Australia’s visual artists. It will help them to earn income as the value of their works appreciate and bring them into line with other creators such as musicians and authors.

“CAL will be appointed as the collecting society under the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Act 2009. It will set up the resale royalty scheme, establish an advisory body, collect and pay royalties to artists, educate the sector about the scheme and develop reciprocal arrangements with other countries that have resale royalty schemes in place.”

The Act, which passed into law last December, establishes for the first time the right of visual artists to receive five per cent of the sale price (whether that's gone up or down) when works are resold through the art market for $1000 or more. The right applies to both living artists and for a period of 70 years after an artist’s death.

Artworks covered by the scheme include paintings, drawings, fine art textiles, sculpture, fine art jewellery, artist's books, carvings, and multimedia artworks.

The scheme is prospective, applying only to resales of original works acquired after the scheme takes effect on 9th June. Once the scheme starts, the resale royalty will be payable on the second sale of an artwork.

“This means buyers will purchase works knowing that when they resell them the royalty will be charged. The resale royalty will not apply to the first sale of works that were purchased before the scheme started,” Mr Garrett said.

(Editorial note) But the scheme will apply to Aboriginal art that's purchased from community art centres by dealers after 9th June. This is because the artist's sale to his or her art centre is considered a first sale. One consequence of this is the threat by a dealer like William Mora in Melbourne to retire from the indigenous art field on the grounds that “the market is too fragile to cope with a 5% impost” which he will have to apply to all works from community art centres.
CAL will charge a flat 10 per cent administrative fee of royalties collected, to cover the costs of implementing the scheme. For example, the resale of a $1000 artwork will entitle an artist or right holder to $45—a royalty of $50 less the 10 per cent administrative fee of $5.

(Editorial note) The appointment of CAL will have caused heartache at Viscopy, the existing copyright agency which collects payments for the reproduction of visual artists' work in books, on film and on postcards, and in auction catalogues. Viscopy had appointed the vastly experienced Joanna Cave, who had set up the British Resale Royalty scheme, on an expectation of winning the same role here. But CAL can claim to have experience of dealing with visual artists too – it collects copyright fees for their works when reproduced in print. It is also a much bigger organisation than Viscopy – and presumably offered the government a better deal.

(Editorial note) It is expected that the higher standards of record-keeping henceforth required of dealers, art centres and collectors will be of great benefit to the Aboriginal art industry – which has sometimes been a tad casual in recording the provenance of an artwork or, say, recording the actual price an artist was actually paid by a dealer for his or her work, and on what date.
The Australian Government has committed funding of $1.5 million over three years for the collecting society to set up the scheme’s administration.
The scheme will operate from 9 June 2010.


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