Artists’ Resale Rights

What is Artists’ Resale Rights (ARR)?

Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) or Droit de Suite is a right that ensures artists receive a fee each time their work is resold. It is a fundamental right for authors of graphic and plastic arts. Generally, ARR entitles creators of original works of art (including paintings, engravings, sculpture and ceramics) to a royalty each time one of their works is resold through an auction house or art market professional.

The droit de suite was first proposed in Europe around 1893. In 1920, France was the first country to enact a law establishing artist’ resale rights, as a means of improving the economic situation of artists and their families, who often lived in poverty.

The ARR is currently recognised in over 80 countries worldwide and has been adopted into the Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, on an optional basis. It states that the ARR “may be claimed in a country of the [Berne] Convention only if the legislation in the country to which the author belongs so permits, and to the extent permitted by the country where this protection is claimed”. ARR applies to the sale of artworks in the European Economic Area, and came into force in the UK in 2006 and in Australia in 2010.

However, with the growing trend towards selling artworks online and internationally, artists benefit when their work resells in markets where ARR is collected, but miss out in other markets where ARR isn’t enforced, including the US, China, Switzerland and Japan.

This poses challenges, as authors around the world must benefit equally from the wealth generated by the sales of their creations. There is an urgent need for the implementation of an international resale right that would resolve disparities between ARR and non-ARR countries and ensure artists receive remuneration from sales of their work, especially when their work sells abroad.

What we do

The International Authors Forum (IAF) believes it is vital that artists in all countries benefit from the resale of their creations. This is a matter of equity between artists, and of ensuring that creators of works are respected and rewarded for the continued enjoyment of their creations.

For these reasons, IAF supports the introduction of an international treaty on the Artist’s Resale Right, which would level the playing field across the globalised art market and benefit all artists no matter where their work is sold.

It is important that we have a copyright framework which acknowledges the nature of international markets for creative works and ensures creators are fairly remunerated for their work. Furthermore, IAF strongly supports the inclusion of Resale Right on the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related rights (SCCR) agenda and the progress of the Resale Right Task Force at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

We recommend you look at the What Is Artists Resale Right Guide published by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).