On May 29, 2013, Bill C-516 was introduced as a private member’s bill in the House of Commons. The bill seeks to amend the Copyright Act to provide creators of certain works with royalties payable upon resale of their work.

The proposed legislation sets the resale royalty at 5% of the sale price of any work that is re-sold for $500 or more after the first transfer of ownership by the artist.  The resale right would apply to “an artistic work, including a painting, sculpture, collage, print, lithograph, tapestry and a ceramic or glassware item”, but would not include maps, charts, plans, photographs or architectural works, or a copy of an artistic work, unless the copy is one of a limited number that had been made by the author or with the artist’s authorization.  Therefore, the scope of work which would attract the resale right is narrower than the scope of “artistic work” as currently defined in the Copyright Act.

Also known as “droit de suite”, artists’ resale rights originated in Europe as a way to ensure that artists receive benefits from prior work, and share in the appreciating value of their work as their reputation develops.  Currently, there are over sixty countries around the word that have implemented an artist’s resale right.

The proposed Canadian resale right would be required to be exercised through a collective society, and would subsist as long as copyright subsists in a work. Waiver of the right would not be permitted, and the right could only be assigned upon the death of the artist. Payment of resale royalties would be a joint and several liability of both the seller of the work and every person who acted in the capacity of art market professional (i.e. auctioneer, art gallery owner, art dealer) as agent for the seller.

Private member’s bills face a difficult road in becoming law.  We will continue to monitor and report on this bill as it passes through the legislative process.