1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

New CJEU reference on artists resale right

CJEU, I salute you (?)
It's time for CJEU fun once again! The 1709 Blog has just learned of a new reference for a preliminary ruling concerning Christie's, France and artists resale right: could there possibly be anything more glamorous than this?

As reported on the relevant page of the UK Intellectual Property Office website, Case C-41/14 Christie's France is a reference for a preliminary ruling from the French Court of Cassation, seeking guidance from the CJEU as to the interpretation of Directive 2001/84/EC (the Resale Right Directive), notably payment of the resale right royalty on the artists resale rights.

As explained by helpful EU law resource EU Law Radar, when original works of art are resold Directive 2001/84/EC requires that a royalty is paid to the author of the work by the seller. The Directive goes on to allow either the seller or professional sellers, such as art galleries, to share the liability for paying the royalty in accordance with national law.

In this case, a French auction house decided to change its terms and conditions so that the buyer, and not the seller, became liable to pay the royalty. Can contract derogate from the seller’s obligation to pay the royalty that is enshrined in the Directive?

The question referred is in fact the following:

"Must the rule laid down by Article 1(4) of Directive 2001/84/EC ... on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art, which makes the seller responsible for payment of the royalty, be interpreted as meaning that the seller is required definitively to bear the cost thereof without any derogation by agreement's being possible?"

If you would like to comment on this case you can do so on this blog and also by emailing policy@ipo.gov.uk by 12 March 2014 [that's next Wednesday, so: hurry up!].

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