Artists' Resale Right: First Year Report

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On February 14, 2007, the UK Artists' Resale Right (ARR) will have been operating for a full year, and this piece considers how well it has been implemented, principally in the UK.

In September 2006 we reported (AM299) on the first six months after the introduction of ARR in the UK, highlights of which included the following: the UK government was obliged by EU law (directive 2001/84/EC) to enact the ARR into UK law, thereby giving artists an automatic legal right to receive a payment when their works are resold. ARR applies to works protected by copyright law, and lasts for the lifetime of the artist plus 70 years after death. The amount of the royalty payable is a percentage of the resale price based upon a fixed sliding scale of consecutive portions of that price:

Portion of the sale price                 Percentage amount

From 1,000 [euro] to 50,000 [euro]                       4%

From 50,000.01 [euro] to 200,000 [euro]                  3%

From 200,000.01 [euro] to 350,000 [euro]                 1%

From 350,000.01 [euro] to 500,000 [euro]               0.5%

Exceeding 500,000 [euro]                              0.25%

The total amount of royalty payable on any one resale is 12,500 [euro]. Resales lower than 1,000 [euro], and those made within three years of the artist's first studio sale or gift, are outside the scheme. Resales between two private people are also outside the scheme, which therefore applies only to resales involving at least one art market professional. Resales of works of dead artists will not come within the UK scheme before January 1, 2010. The art market professional must pay the ARR royalty directly to an artists' collecting society, which will pay the artist. Artists cannot claim their ARR royalties directly, and so they should register with an ARR collecting society; the ARR of artists who have not registered with a collecting society are automatically paid by the art market professional to the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS): www.dacs.org.uk.

Artists have a choice of registering with DACS, the 20-year-old not-for-profit artists' collecting society; or with the Artists' Collecting Society (ACS), established in June 2006 as a Community Interest Company by the Society of London Art Dealers and the British Art Market Federation, 'with the aim of supporting the art trade': info@ArtistsCollectingSociety.org.uk. (Our September 2006 report suggested that a third ARR collecting society was being established in the UK, but this now appears not to be the case.)

During the past year DACS and ACS have been in healthy competition with each other to charge artists the lowest commission fee to cover their administrative costs. ACS says it will charge 15% of the royalty payment collected. DACS guarantees to match the lowest of its competitors' charges, and has therefore also charged 15% during the past year.

DACS invoices art market professionals on a continuous basis, and pays artists every month. By the end of December 2006 DACS had collected over 1m [pounds sterling] in ARR royalties of which it paid out 709,000 [pounds sterling] to over 400 artists, 93% of whom are British; collections included ARR royalties received from sister collecting societies abroad where British artists' works had been resold, including Denmark, Finland, Sweden and France.

ACS will invoice art market professionals quarterly (at the end of December, March, June and September) and will pay artists 'in a timely fashion'. ACS sent its first invoices to UK art market professionals at the end of December 2006, by which date it had not therefore collected or paid out any ARR royalties. ACS does not collect ARR royalties for British artists whose works are resold abroad.

All other EU member states were required by EU law to introduce ARR (commonly known as droit de suite throughout continental Europe) into their domestic legislation by 2006. …