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TinotopiaLog → Another Copyright-ish Idiocy ( 9 Mar 2002)
Saturday 09 March 2002

Another Copyright-ish Idiocy

This article in the Telegraph discusses why bureaucracy is resulting in the movement of a larger part of the art market out of the EU, but I think it misses the main point.

At issue is the droit de suite, which basically establishes a statutory license fee on artwork. Every time a work of art is sold in some European countries (and, soon, anywhere in the EU), until a date 70 years after the artist’s death, a fee has to be paid to the artist or his heirs.

The Telegraph focuses on the fact that the EU’s procedures result in the sale of a work of art costing 40 in paperwork alone. That’s a problem, but not the big one. The big problem is that the EU dictates to artists the conditions under which their art may be sold.

There’s no reason an artist in the United States could not license a work of art to a buyer, with restrictions on the manner of subsequent resale, or with additional fees to be paid to the artist under certain conditions. All artists working in film and music do this, and some famous visual artists undoubtedly already do, as well.

But very few unheard-of artists do, for the simple reason that the market won’t bear it. Purchasing art by an unknown artist is, economically speaking, a risky transaction. The purchaser doesn’t want it made riskier still by a statutory fee that diminishes the value of the thing on the secondary market. The ‘strugling artist’, as the phrase goes, is going to sell his art for what he can get. That he is not now allowed to do so in the EU will not help Europe’s cultural decline.

Posted by tino at 10:22 9.03.02
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