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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Artists to benefit from Resale Royalty Right

Alice Springs
3 October 2008

Peter Garrett: It is a very, great, great pleasure to be here in Alice Springs at the Papunya Tula gallery this morning to announce the Governments intention to introduce a resale royalty scheme in to the Parliament, delivering on an election promise by Labor that we would have a resale royalty scheme for visual artists.

I expect that this resale royalty scheme will provide ongoing good benefits for artists, particularly for Indigenous artists who have seen quite strong escalations in the price of their work after the first sales that they have had, particularly in the strength of both the market here and also overseas.

This resale royalty scheme is intended to meet the needs of balancing the interests of the art industry and the rights of visual artists to get some return from their work when it is on sold for a much greater price. We have established a scheme that will provide equity in that we have a 5% royalty that will be a flat royalty rate, there will be a $1,000 figure as a threshold for the royalty to apply, there will be no cap in terms of the amounts that the resale royalty to applies to and because we have designed the scheme in such a way that we are providing a copyright for artists they and their heirs and successors will be able to have that right for their lifetime plus 70 years consistent under the Berne convention.

Australia has a number of reciprocal arrangements with other countries which have resale royalty rights so that means that those resale royalty rights also benefit artists when their work is sold overseas. This scheme meets the right balance between providing for certainty and clarity for how a scheme of this kind should operate and delivering on our promise to provide Australias visual artists and especially Indigenous artists with some rights in the event that their work is on sold into the future.

Journalist: Practically speaking 5% in royalties, does that mean that the prices could be bumped up by 5%?

Peter Garrett: Our strong view is that a 5% royalty figure provides sufficient equity in terms of the art market and the provision of resale benefit for artists. There is no question at all that the capacity for the art market to be able to deliver on a resale royalty scheme is based on ease of administration and clarity on what is required, now there are schemes that have sliding scales, we looked at sliding scales but on balance felt that a simpler more effective and clearer scheme would simply sit the royalty at 5% and we believe that it wouldnt impact adversely on the art market but rather provide certainty for the market.

Journalist: Where will that 5% actually come from?

Peter Garrett: The 5% comes from the figure which is taken as a resale royalty of the resale of the art product itself. There will be a single collecting institution that will be required to collect and administer the scheme. We will tender for organisations to bid to be that collecting institutions. By doing that we will ensure that tenderers take into account the simplicity and clarity of executing the scheme and also price, we dont believe there needs to be an unnecessarily high administrative burden or unnecessarily high cost in the administration of that scheme because of those arrangements.

Journalist: It could be quite complex when you are talking about whole communities that contributing to one art work, especially here in central Australia with Indigenous communities, how will the government practically sort that out?

Peter Garrett: Well I think that this scheme's great virtue is that it is clear and straight forward in terms of how the right applies and our expectation is that a collecting institution will have the capacity to make sure that it is able to deliver a scheme which is accountable which is well understood and which delivers them that benefit and I am sure that is something will actually happen.

Journalist: How will this benefit small time artists, those artists who may be at prey to carpetbaggers, to unscrupulous dealings?

Peter Garrett: Again, by providing a specific resale royalty right for artists and for that right to be a right which is to be inherited by succession and by enabling a collecting institution to track and make sure that the benefits from that right are paid to copyright owners, we are actually introducing to the art market including the Indigenous art market a level of transparency, administration and monitoring which will greater effect and provide greater benefit for visual artists in terms of receiving the recompense for their work which they are entitled to.

Journalist: What happens when an artist here in central Australia sells their artwork for car originally to a carpetbagger, how will you then track that art work and ensure that artist or community gets benefit later on?

Peter Garrett: Well my expectation is that the organisations that tender for the right to administer for resale royalty will have to work their way through a series of issues including the kinds of issues you have raised, they are matters that will be thoroughly canvassed and the final delivery of the mechanics of the scheme will ensure where the right applies the royalty will be paid.

Journalist: Does this ensure complete parity with other rights holders in other arts industries?

Peter Garrett: This brings visual artists into the same right of parity in terms of having their copyright recognised and protected under law, say for example such as writers, and it also provides for our visual artists to have those reciprocal rights recognised in countries where a resale royalty right attaches and that is most other countries where the art market is healthy with the exception of the United States which doesnt have a resale royalty but it does include the EU so that is the United Kingdom, Germany and the like.

Journalist: What particular benefits to expect for Indigenous artists as a result of this?

Peter Garrett: Over time we will see a greater income flow for Indigenous artists and to their families. I think it will provide the confidence that where their work is in the medium and the longer term resold at much greater values than the work was originally sold that they can actually see some return on the basis of that later value being so high. This is a really good day for Australias visual artists, it is a good day, a very good day for Australias Indigenous artists, were delivering on a resale royalty scheme which is fair and balanced and I think that Australian artists but especially Indigenous painters and artists will be the beneficiaries now and into the future.

Journalist: What happens when they die without a will?

Peter Garrett: Well that is something that is going to be an issue that will be important to Indigenous artists and I think by introducing this scheme we will have a greater recognition of the need on the basis of artists and people generally, particularly in Indigenous communities to consider the issues of succession and make sure that they actual do have wills.

Journalist: Will artists ever be able to set their own royalties?

Peter Garrett: The royalty rate is set by the government at 5%. It is set to enable an equitable and a clear framework is in place for the deliver of a resale royalty scheme and I think it will be welcomed by artists. Thanks everybody.

Commonwealth of Australia