Overview in Europe

What is it?

The artists’ resale royalty right is the right of an artist to participate in the proceeds realized from the resale of his work. Also known as the droit de suite, this law is an attempt to equalise the copyright status of visual artists with that of other authors by enabling artist to share in the appreciation in value of their works when the works are sold after the initial sale.

Although, copyright laws provide the same protections to authors of works- whether the author is a visual artist, a writer, or a composer – writers and composers derive most of their economic rewards through the reproduction and distribution of copies of their works, but not so for visual artists. Despite the reproduction and distribution of some images in the form of posters, fine prints, or on , say, note cards, calendars and T-shirts, a visual artist’s primary source of income derives from the sale of the original work in which the image is embodied. It is this disparity that the artist’s resale royalty right attempts to rectify.

The droit de suite has currently been adopted in some form in more than 23 jurisdictions throughout the world, and recently, due to the European Directive 2001/84/EC, all of the European member states must adopt droit de suite. It is reported that in the vast majority of cases, the royalties are not actually collected – either because of weakness of the market or because of inefficiencies of the collection arrangements. The European member states have been slow to adopt the directive and many are lagging behind the imposed deadline of 01 January 2006.

It is questionable whether the proposed problem to be cured (namely, visual artists’ failing to receive adequate compensation for their creative efforts) is commensurate with the burden that would be placed on the buyers and the sellers of visual art, the very people who already provide the main support for artists.

For more information

More information regarding Droit de Suite can be obtained from the CINOA secretariat. For more specific information on the transposition by individual European Member States, please contact CINOA’s member trade associations which can be accessed via this website.

Countries within the European Union:

Act: Directive 2001/84/EC, 27 September 2001

CINOA survey results on EC member states adoption of Droit de Suite

Jurisdictions outside the European Union:
Table compiled from various sources on the adoption of Droit de Suite