Artists resale rights

Whenever a musician sells a track, they receive a small payment, or royalty, from the transaction. When an artwork is resold on the secondary market by a gallery, dealer or auction house for over €1,000, the artist who made the work is owed a small percentage of the resale value as well.

Primary sales - the first sale of a work - are not included, as an artist should get a paid by the gallery selling the work instead.

The Right lasts for your whole life plus 70 years after your death – meaning whoever inherits your estate is owed money on sales as well.

It operates in a number of other countries besides the EU.

It is administered by DACS and the Artist’s Collecting Society in the UK.

There is a sliding scale from 0.25% to 4% of the sale price for royalties, but the maximum you will receive on any resale is €12,500, no matter how much the work sells for.

You can read a full copy of the new law if you have the patience, or see updated information on the law on the Intellectual Property Office website.

To collect payments after sales, artists must use one of the official collecting agencies, each of which currently charges 15% of the money collected as a fee.

A full guide can be found in our Artlaw section on Artists Resale Right.

This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material.
The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.
Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.