The proposed US Congressional bill to give visual artists royalties on the resale of their work at auction is dead, but a House Representative plans to revive it.
According to the Art Law Report, the ART (American Royalties Too) Act technically died because of “a quirk of parliamentary procedure,” which has it that bills remain pending only as long as the Congresses they come from are in session. So, when the 114th US Congress took its seats on January 3, the unresolved bills from the 113th Congress were dropped. Among them was the ART Act, introduced last February by US Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and eventually gaining 15 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. On the recommendation of the US Copyright Office, the act proposed a 5% royalty on works sold for $5,000 or more at auction, with a cap at $35,000.
Despite the recent setback, all hope is not lost. Nadler, who’s back in Congress for another term, introduced a different version of the act in 2011 and had zero luck then, so last year’s momentum is moderately more promising. And John Doty, the director of Nadler’s Washington, DC, office, tells Hyperallergic that “Congressman Nadler does plan to reintroduce the bill this Congress. An exact date and exact bill language have not yet been decided.”
The history of the fight for droit de suite is long and contentious, but it’s far from over.