Friday, 18 November 2011
US Auction Houses face Droit de Suite Class Action
For readers who prefer looking to listening, belated news from the Big Apple. The New York Times reported on November 1st that Sotheby's, Christies' New York and online auctioneer ebay are the subject of 3 class actions by artists. The claimants are seeking the identities and locations of sellers with a view to making claims for droit de suite payments. American lawyers who subscribe, or at least the Californian ones, will know of the California Resale Royalties Act.
A mischievous copyright red herring: Patty Milich, the Resale Royalty Act coordinator at the California Arts Council, tells the NYT that "People often don’t realize, for example, that if a California hotel with paintings on the walls changes ownership, or if a donated sculpture sells for more than its original price at a fundraising auction, a royalty may be due." So if the hotel which is the vehicle for the art is sold, what about a company that is a vehicle for copyrights being sold? Which, for readers that listen rather than look, may prompt idle pondering about whether recording artists and songwriters entitled by contracts to shares of any other income touching or concerning the copyrightsmight be entitled to share pro-rata in the proceeds of the EMI sale