Resale Royalty

Australia legislated for the Artists Resale Royalty Right in 2009 and the scheme came into operation in 2010, managed by the Copyright Agency. Under this scheme artists get 5% of the sale price every time their work is resold on the secondary market.

Opening night for RIGHTNOW exhibition. L to R: Matthew Johnson, Tamara Winikoff and Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill).
Photo: Opening night for RIGHTNOW exhibition. L to R: Matthew Johnson, Tamara Winikoff and Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill). Image by Sharon Hickey.

After a 20 year campaign, NAVA enthusiastically welcomed the introduction of the Resale Royalty Right for Australian artists in early December 2009 when the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Bill 2009 became law in Australia. NAVA believes it should be continued in its current form with some minor improvements.

However, this right is possibly under threat. Before the change of Arts Minister, Senator George Brandis was considering the future of the scheme which has been reviewed after its first three years of operation. NAVA is concerned to ensure that the Arts Minister will not make an adverse decision to curtail the scheme.

Vernon Ah Kee, Michael Zavros, Leanne Bennett, Barry Keldoulis, Senator George Brandis QC, Tamara Winikoff, Tim Olsen

Left to Right: Vernon Ah Kee - artist; Michael Zavros - artist; Leanne Bennett - widow of artist Gordon Bennett; Barry Keldoulis - director of Melbourne & Sydney art fairs; Senator George Brandis QC, Minister for the Arts; Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director NAVA; and Tim Olsen - director of Olsen Irwin Gallery.

At a meeting on 20th March 2015, members of the visual arts sector had fruitful discussions with Senator George Brandis QC, the then Minister for the Arts and his Arts Adviser Michael Napthali about the Artists Resale Royalty Scheme. A decision about the future of the Scheme is still pending. The artists, directors of galleries, art fairs and the peak visual arts body made the case for continuing the scheme in its current form to allow it to bed down and continue to deliver substantial financial value, recognition and respect for artists and their beneficiaries, particularly Indigenous artists living in regional and remote areas.

Artists Sign for Resale

2014 Resale Royalty Petition

Artists came out en masse to protect Australia's resale royalty scheme which delivers multiple benefits to artists. They sent a strong message to the previous Federal Arts Minister Senator George Brandis to sustain the scheme into the future.

In just over a month, more than 3,700 artists signed a petition supporting the scheme which was sent to the Arts Minister at the end of May 2014. Many others wrote to Minister Brandis including a group of 70 of some of Australia's best known artists, affirming how important they feel the scheme is to the wellbeing and sustainability of artists' careers.

NAVA's 2013 Resale Royalty Members Survey

In 2013 NAVA surveyed the opinions of its members about the scheme:

  • 90.3% of those surveyed said they thought that the recognition of ongoing rights was an important benefit of the scheme
  • 70.1% of those surveyed said that earning income was a valued benefit, though at that stage only 8% had received payment
  • 93.8 % of those surveyed said they thought the scheme should be expanded so they would be eligible for resale royalty payments when their art sold overseas.

What is Resale Royalty?

The objectives of the Resale Royalty Scheme are to provide visual artists with: 

a) recognition of their ongoing rights in their art; and 

b)additional income through royalties derived from commercial resales of their art.

Under this law, Australian visual artists and craft practitioners are entitled to five per cent of the resale price of eligible artworks sold commercially for $1,000 or more. The right is inalienable and endures for the life of the artist plus 70 years.

Key features of the scheme:

  • it applies to resales of existing as well as new works;
  • it applies to a range of original artworks, including limited edition prints authorised by the artist;
  • it does not apply to a private sale from one individual to another;
  • all resales for $1,000 or more must be reported. However, a royalty is not payable on resales for under $1,000;
  • a royalty is not payable on the first change of hands after 9 June 2010;
  • It is intended that the scheme will be extended to artworks from countries that have similar schemes.

    For more information visit the Resale Royalty

    How well is the Resale Royalty Scheme working?

    On 9th June 2010 the scheme came into force and the Copyright Agency was appointed by the Federal Government to manage the scheme.

    Copyright Agency reports that since its start in June 2010 until the end of September 2015, the scheme has generated royalties:

    • totalling $3.7M
    • from more than 11,100 resales
    • for more than 1,090 artists
    • lowest royalty $50
    • highest royalty $55,000
    • most royalties have been between $50 and $500
    • over 65% of the artists receiving royalties are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists and they have received 38% of the total royalties generated
    • most royalties (60%) have been paid directly to living artists with some paid to artists' estates and beneficiaries
    • of the 50 artists who have received most money under the scheme, 22 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

    NAVA encourages all artists to register to ensure that they are easily identified for royalty payments to be made when their work is resold

    To register go to the Copyright Agency

    International Schemes

    Currently, Australia is in good company. More than 40 other countries have adopted a resale royalty provision since 1992, including the United Kingdom and the European Union. Some of the major art trading nations globally - USA, China and Canada - are rapidly moving towards adoption of resale royalty schemes and the EU has concluded a resale royalty harmonisation agreement.

    Take Action

    To support NAVA's call for the Federal Government to continue the Resale Royalty Scheme

    1. Write to the Arts Minister The Hon. Paul Fletcher. Contact details here.

    2. You could also write to the Shadow Arts Minister The Hon. Tony Burke. Contact details here.

    3. Talk to your local member. Find out who is your local member is here.