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Reviewed 12 May 2010

UK seeks two year extension on Artist's Resale Right

The UK Government has notified the European Commission that it intends to maintain its existing derogation from resale right for the works of deceased artists for a further two years.

The extension means that resale right will continue to apply in the UK to works by living artists only.

Resale right entitles authors of original works of art, such as paintings, engravings, sculpture and ceramics, to receive a royalty each time one of their works is resold in a sale involving an art market professional.

The decision to extend the derogation comes after extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including artists and traders.

Ministers decided that the current economic climate could only but affect the art market’s ability to cope with the application of artist’s resale right to the works of deceased artists.

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, has written to the European Commission’s Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to notify him of the UK’s intention to extend this derogation.

Mr Denham said:

"We are committed to supporting businesses, including the UK art trade, through the current downturn. Applying resale right to deceased artists at this time would place a considerable burden on the art trade.

"If the art traders are seeing a reduction in business they will not only sell fewer works- but will not buy them from artists either. This will have a knock on effect for artists who will find that there is less of a market for their work."

The UK has been working closely with the European Union (EU) and other member states to raise the issue of resale right at an international level and will continue to press for international action.

Editor's notes

  • Artist's resale right came into force in the United Kingdom (UK) on 14 February 2006. It was brought in to implement Directive 2001/84/EC. This right entitles authors of original works of art (including for example paintings, engravings, sculpture, ceramics) to a royalty each time one of their works is resold in a sale involving an art market professional.
  • The right only applies to sales for €1,000 or more and is calculated on a sliding scale. The maximum royalty payable on any single sale is €12,500.
  • The royalty is subject to compulsory collective management so artists cannot claim their royalty independently but must receive it through a collecting society.
  • A derogation to artist’s resale right for works by deceased artists was available to countries that did not have resale right when the Directive entered into force. It could only be used until January 2010 with an extension until January 2012 provided certain procedures were followed.
  • The UK used the derogation and therefore currently artist’s resale right only applies to works created by artists who are still living. From 2010 the right would also apply to works created by artists who have been dead for less than 70 years, unless the derogation is extended in accordance with the Directive requirements. An extension will mean that the right will, in the UK, continue to only apply to living artists until 2012.
  • The original consultation document PDF document(971Kb) and a full summary of responses PDF document(29Kb) to the consultation are available.
  • The letter to the European Commission PDF document(1013Kb) is available.
  • For enquiries about the Intellectual Property Office please contact James Thomson Tel: 020 75966 547.
Date of release: 19 December 2008