Canadian_old_growth_forest_landscape_paintingIn 2008, I wrote about some authors’ desire to force second-hand bookstores to pay royalties when they resell used books, comparing it to the droit de suite laws in Europe that require royalties be paid on resale of original works of art. Now, Mike Masnick writes on Techdirt about legislation that has just been introduced to bring droit de suite to the United States. The law would only apply to art valued over $10,000.

The problem with this law, Masnick points out, is that it makes ownership of art more expensive—people who would buy it as an investment will have to account for the fact that they’ll be losing a chunk of the resale value if they resell it. And it doesn’t make sense for established artists, because anyone whose old works are selling for that much should be making and selling newer works himself.

Personally, I think the bill’s authors are thinking too small. If people who make art are entitled to perpetual kickbacks on sale, why shouldn’t everybody? They could add books to it like those authors wanted, but why stop there? How about the people who make the furniture you put in your house? Going to resell that Formica table and the La-Z-Boy recliner with just a few holes in it at a garage sale? Get your checkbook out. And paying Detroit a royalty on every used car would certainly help prop up our flagging auto industry. And why shouldn’t McDonald’s have to pay dairy and beef farmers a little extra cut from each one of those billions of cheeseburgers it sells? We could create all sorts of new revenue streams for the people who make the stuff we use every day!

Or, no, wait, we couldn’t. All it would mean is that we’d just end up paying more for everything. Hopefully this dumb legislation dies the death it deserves…but I don’t think we can count on that happening.


  1. Why can’t content creators realize that when you sell something to someone its theirs to do with as they please. This is simple ownership rights that even a Washington based politician can understand….oh wait…maybe they can’t.

    With ever day that passes it seems to me we are getting closer and closer to civil war as the only option to prevent a total takeover of society by the creators. I don’t know about you, but my ancestors did not leave a nation to get away from religious domination to allow physical content creators to exercise the same rights that the religious class claimed as recently as 500 years ago.

    At what point do we stand up and throw these bums out for suggesting ever increasingly insane ideas. Answer me this… you really want to live in a world like some of the nut jobs are suggesting we move toward during the past couple of years?

    Personally I feel we should move forward toward creating paradise on earth…with or without them….its their choice and our option!

    If my opinion sounds a little strong…well just think about this…there are many nations in this world where a woman can be killed for showing her face, and the idea of content creators retaining ownership rights of something you paid for is just as insane as it is for a society to allow someone to be killed for showing their face. lets not move toward insanity in this nation.

  2. If I sell a painting of a deceased painter for $10K + under this concept, who gets the royalties? The heirs? More likely, the poor artist will have assigned the rights to some corporate entity (Corbis, Getty et. al.). Thus, I suspect that the ‘gray eminence’ behind all this is the spirit of corporate lust, not a concern for the artist.

    We see something eerily similar with pBooks and eBooks. Authors are used as a stalking horse.

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