Thursday 2 August 2012

Resale right and race horses

Danedream winning the Arc (photo by Charles Roffey)
Although horse racing is not an Olympic discipline, I have just stumbled across this report about German/Irish race horse Danedream. As a filly, she was so mousy-looking and utterly unremarkable in training that in July 2010 her breeders sold her for the comparatively meagre sum of € 9,000. Two years on, she is "Galopper des Jahres" ("German Race Horse of the Year"), the first mare to win both the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and has won more than € 3.6 million for her new owners. Do the breeders get a piece of the pie? No. They cannot even breed new little Danedreams. As all her older brothers and sisters had been a bit of a disappointment, and she did not look promising either, the breeders sold her mother as well.

Horse sculpture by Curdin Guler (photo: Hans Loepfe)
I cannot help being struck by the parallels to fine art. Advocates of the artist's resale right (aka droit de suite) contend that an artist who sells her work should participate in any future commercial success through a share in the sales price. The same is not argued, as far as I am aware, for breeders of race horses. Yet it takes a lot of labour, skill, effort and expense to breed, raise and train a horse. And, similar to fine art, it is difficult to predict which ones will be successful in spite of appearances, like Danedream, and which ones look promising but fail in actual competitions.

So what do you think? Should there be a resale right to benefit breeders of race horses, are the two things completely different, or should there be neither an artist's resale right nor a resale right for breeders of race horses?


Andy J said...

Frankly I think there is a world of differnce between the two subject areas. Firstly although a breeder may use a certain amount of skill in picking the right stud horse to put to a particular mare, nature still plays an enormous part in deciding the physical outcome. Young horses are not usually put into training too early, but any breeder worth the name should be able to spot potential fairly early on, so I think this particular one just missed a trick and doesn't deserve any benefit from the later success of the horse, which I suspect was largely down to the training she received after she was sold. In other words, creating a good race horse requires three separate things: the right combination of stallion and mare (who actually do the creative bit), a canny breeder, and a good trainer. This is not comparable to a single, starving artist in Montmartre.

Luciano M said...

I understand the point, but I think that a better comparison could be done with football players.
In Argentina and other countries, clubs that train a player have "training rights" (derechos de formación in Spanish). That kind of right has the same objective that you are describing.

john walker said...

Andy j
You are right about horses.

Presumably the clubs purchasing the player know about the 'training rights' before they pay for the player and can adjust their upfront payment appropriately ? And presumably the clubs can simply choose to hire players from places that do not have training rights?
Or is 'training rights' a mandated restriction of trade?

We should have levies on the reuse of every thing.

Monika said...

Andy J: I agree that training is a big factor, but sometimes it really is difficult to tell the winners from the losers in advance. Of course that also means that the breeder may sell a promising horse that will later turn out to be a bad investment for the buyer - so perhaps it evens out, which would indeed be a very different situation to that of an artist.

Luciano: Does that mean that the old club gets a percentage of the player's wage? And if the player leaves for yet another club, do both his former clubs get a share?

Thomas Dillon said...

Your analogy is rather close, Monika. It takes enormous skill and judgment to breed horses. More to the point, it takes huge investment. Like the creative industries, racing is a hit driven business for the entrepreneurs (owners) who finance it. As for the droit de suite, it's nonsense, isn't it? Does the artist have to refund money if his work turns out to be overvalued? The whole idea stems from the residual pre-modern notion that Society should confer benefits on people on the basis of their "statut". Contrarily, copyright (at least in the common law world) is about creating vendibles; if there is already a unique vendible under the control of the author, there is no need for IP.

john walker said...


Speaking as an artist the people who have little say in this sort of resale 'right' are always the artists who actually sell art in the first place. In most places that have resale scheme this individual right is a right to which you cannot say no, a very strange concept.

Getting the limited case by case right of artists to say no, in Australia's resale Act took a year of- Australie will not quit until it is quit(and section 55 of the Australian constitution).