[Reader-list] Rights of Artists to share of resale of Art works

Lawrence Liang lawrence at altlawforum.org
Mon Aug 7 19:42:52 IST 2006

Hi All
We  were working on a review of Indian copyright law when we came upon a
very interesting thing: Droit de Suite.
Droit de suite (DDS) is the name given to a principle in law that gives
artists (specifically, the creators of artistic works) the right to a
percentage of SECONDARY sales of said artistic work. Essentially, lets say I
am Tyeb Mehta. I sell a painting in 1985 to X. X sells it in 2006 through an
auction house for a whopping big load of money. Conventional wisdom,
especially in the artistic community, is outrage - since Tyeb Mehta
apparently gets nothing since X owned the painting sold, not him.
Except, ever since 1994, India has a legal provision which entitles the
artist to upto 10% of the resale value, and the Copyright Board is empowered
to step in to decide what the percentage should be in case of a dispute.
Here's the section - see http://www.copyright.gov.in/cpract.doc, and look at
Section 53A: Resale share right in original copies. (the text is attached as
No artist seems to know anything: and indeed, a whole bunch of prominent
people (inlcuding Raza, Tyeb) have been complaining (bizarrely) that if only
such a provision were to exist in Indian law it would be of great use to
them. See: 
Now the thing is, DDS has a specific history - even though the Indian govt.
apparently has no data to share on whether it has been used or not (casual
conversations with the Registrar of Copyright indicated that its rarely/
never been that a dispute has come up to the Copyright Board, which does not
mean that all artists are getting their due share, rather that no artist is
- on resale rights at least).
Here are the links to 2 documents that cursorily talk about DDS in the
Indian context, both worth reading:
tm <http://www.ficci-frames.com/frames2001/Frames
And here is a much broader UNESCO study on DDS itself, with a very good
explanation of how it works - useful to know, since for instance, private
sales (between the buyer and seller directly, without intermediaries) are
EXEMPT in the sense that the artist is not entitled to anything there - DDS
only applies when the sale is through a gallery, auction etc.
Lawrence / Achal

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