Canadian Artists Now Get Paid When Works Are Resold in Violation of Copyright Laws – National

Artists are to be paid if their works are resold in a shake of copyright laws that would earn them a share of collectors’ profits.

Painters, sculptors and other visual artists receive a payout when their work is resold at auction and by galleries. This is a government move to help support thousands of artists currently working below the poverty line.

Under copyright law reforms being drafted by Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, artists would be granted a “resale right” giving them a royalty during the life of the copyright, according to the Champagne Bureau.

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Artists complain that they are getting nothing now when paintings and sculptures are going up in value.

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Montreal abstract artist Claude Tousignant, whose painting Accelerator Chromatique 90 sold for $110,000 in 2012, is among artists supporting the reform of the law. He would have received $5,500 if amendments to copyright law prepared by ministers went into effect on resale.

The late Inuk artist Kenojuak Ashevak sold a work called “Enchanted Owl” for $24 in 1960 and it was later resold for $158,500.

“Our government is currently moving ahead with work on possible changes to copyright law to further protect artists, creators and copyright owners,” said Laurie Bouchard, a spokeswoman for Champagne. “Resale rights for artists are indeed an important step towards improving economic conditions for artists in Canada.”

CARFAC, which represents Canadian artists, wants artists to receive five percent of the value of their work if it’s resold, and their estate to receive funds decades after their death, under copyright rules.

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At least 90 countries, including the UK and France, already have resale rights for artists, but Canada is lagging behind, driving many artists to give up their craft because they can’t make a living from it.

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There are over 21,000 visual artists in Canada, and according to the 2016 census, their median income from all sources of income is $20,000 per year.

“It’s important to really recognize that half of our artists live in poverty,” said April Britski, executive director of CARFAC. “We all benefit from arts and culture, and our creators deserve a better, more stable income.”

The forthcoming law change follows years of campaigning by Senator Patricia Bovey, the first female art historian in the Senate.

Bovey, a former director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, said France has had resale rights for over 100 years and changing copyright laws in Canada is long overdue.

The senator said she knows many artists who would have sold works for small sums early in their careers and seen them being valued “tenfold or more.”

Inuit artists, who often live in remote areas and sell locally, are among those who would particularly benefit from receiving some of the resale value at galleries and auctions.

“Artists are the group in Canada that make up the largest percentage of the working poor — below the poverty line,” Bovey said. “It is our artists who tell us who we are, where we stand, what we face as a society. If they can’t support themselves financially, we lose this really important window on who we are as Canadians.”

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Paddy Lamb, an Edmonton-based artist, said making a living from art is very hard, even for established artists.

He said he has seen works rise in value as artists establish themselves and their art is sold in major galleries or auction houses.

“For Inuit artists, once their work leaves Nunavut, its value immediately increases ? and (the artists) get none of it,” he said. “This is a tool that artists can use to make a living.”

He said Canadian artists know from artists from countries where resale rights already exist how important the payouts are to “help people.”

“Most payouts in the UK are in smaller increments to artists who aren’t A-list artists,” Lamb said. “In Australia, a lot of it goes to Aboriginal artists. What we are asking for is a really good level playing field.”

CARFAC Vice President Theresie Tungilik, an artist living in Rankin Inlet, said it was “unfair” that artists who see works being resold “don’t get a penny from it”.

“I’ve watched how the world treats its artists,” she said. “France did this over a hundred years ago and it is important for all Canadian artists, including Inuit artists, that they have the same right.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press Canadian Artists Now Get Paid When Works Are Resold in Violation of Copyright Laws – National


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