In July copyright experts, figures from the art world, and government officials from eight countries gathered in Geneva to discuss the royalty rights for artists. As detailed in a summary provided by the Art Newspaper’s Art Market supplement, they were calling for an international review of royalty rights for artists following a conference at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva.

The issue has now officially been added to WIPO’s agenda. Whether there should be a global treaty on the matter will now be debated at the WIPO in December. It is currently part of the Berne Convention, which is international, but its implementation is optional.

Currently 81 countries have some sort of royalty rights that apply to the reselling of an artist’s work. Legislation is pending in five other countries, including the US.

The main argument being put forward was that it would help artists who are disadvantaged by sales of their work abroad, especially in China and America, where no royalties are collected.  The flip side of the debate is that it may be to the detriment of art markets in countries that do collect royalties, introducing more cumbersome regulation. The British Art Market Federation (BAMF) released a report last year that held this responsible for a 3% decline in Britain’s share of the global art market – but their report was based on auction sales alone. In Australia, resale rights have been labelled “highly corrosive” to the art market.

We look forward to the debate in December.