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Monday, 7 September 2009
Page: 8777


Dr WASHER (4:50 PM) —I seek leave to speak again so that I can complete my speech.

Leave granted.


Dr WASHER —The second key issue raised by the committee was whether individual artists could be able to opt out completely and personally and have the right to collect royalties. Clause 33 states that the resale royalty right is absolutely inalienable. This is in line with article 14(2) of the Berne convention. Clause 15 allows an artist to transfer this right to a charitable institution that works for the benefit of the community. The intention is to create not a right that is tradeable as a commodity or to be held by a commercial entity but one that can be passed to natural heirs or to not-for-profit organisations. Clause 33 provides a safeguard for artists being pressured to give up their rights to obtain a royalty for the resale of the artwork.

However, clause 23 states that artists can exercise their right to say no to the collecting society to collect the royalties or to enforce the right on their behalf. This clause appears to give artists the ability to collect the royalty themselves or come to some other arrangement with an auction house or art market professional. The concern for the committee was that even if artists were able to collect the royalty themselves the collecting society would still be required to publish details and monitor upcoming auctions and sales where they believed resales would attract a royalty payment. This administrative cost would be borne by the collecting society. This means that artists or resale royalty holders who choose to have their rights administered by the society would bear these costs, which are applicable to all resale royalty holders.

The current opt-out clause seems to be at odds with the desire to establish one collecting society as per clause 35. Therefore the committee recommended that clause 23(1) be redrafted to give artists the right to opt out of the scheme on a case-by-case basis. But if they elect to receive royalties from future resale of artwork then this must be done through the appointed collecting society. However the government is confident that, although clause 23(1) allows an artist to opt out, clause 35(3) prevents an artist from establishing an alternative collecting society.

Although not all recommendations made by the committee were agreed to by the government, the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Bill 2008 will allow visual artists to benefit from the commercialisation of their work in the secondary art market, and I commend this bill to the chamber. In passing, I would make mention of the fact that I think this is a very good example of a House of Representatives committee doing something to get what we think is workable legislation into place.