The Artists Resale Right Regulations, which came into force on 14 February 2006, implement a European Directive of 2001 and provide artists and photographers with the right to a royalty on the first and subsequent commercial resales of their work. This right is sometimes referred to a Droit de Suite.
The Resale Right Regulations contain a number of exceptions, conditions and limitations but nonetheless underpin an important source of potential income for artists. One of the exceptions to the Resale Right is that royalties are not payable on the resale of works by dead artists.
The UK government, following extensive consultation with art industry stakeholders at the time, has never been comfortable with the prospect of resale rights being extended to the work of deceased artists feeling that this could seriously undermine the economics of what it considers to be the most valuable sector of the UK art market. In 2008, therefore, the government indicated that it would take advantage of its right under the Directive to derogate from the Resale Right Regulations the works of dead artists.
The Intellectual Property Office has just issued a press release (IPO – Artists Resale Right press release) announcing that, on 21 October, the government laid before Parliament a draft statutory instrument which will extend the derogation period for a further two years.
Whilst it is not yet available, it appears likely that the statutory instrument will be referred to as the Artists Resale Right (Amendment) Regulations 2009 No. 27982 which will come into force on 1 December 2009 and which will mean that resale rights will continue to apply only to living artists until 1 January 2012.