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Artist's Rights when selling their work

Written by Thomas Mould on 10 January 2015

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Artist’s resale rights

If you are an artist then your primary business is being producing and selling your works of art. What IP rights does the artist have once they sell their pieces of art?

Artist Resale Rights

For some time, a number of European jurisdictions have granted artists a resale right. This right entitles artists and their successors in title to a percentage of the sale price, net of tax, whenever original works of art in which copyright subsists are resold in transactions involving art market professionals. Until 2006, the right did not exist in the UK but after consultations with Intellectual Property Office, the right was introduced to harmonise the UK with the rest of the European Union. This allows artists to take further income from their works that may have been sold in the past.

Each time their artwork is sold it entitles the artist is entitled to a percentage of the sale value


Resale price


up to €50,000


between €50,000.01 and €200,000


between €200,000.01 and €350,000


between €350,000.01 and €500,000


in excess of €500,000


IP rights when selling a work.

When an artist sells a work of art, clearly the piece of art will belong to the new owner but what about the intellectual property rights?

It is something that must be considered when selling an artistic work. The new owner may exploit the image against the authors will, to his detriment. In general when artwork is sold without the copyright attached to the image, which remains with the artist unless they specifically sign over the copyright. The new owner will be allowed to enjoy the work but they cannot reproduce the work without the copyright owner’s permission.

Therefore just because you bought an original work does not mean that you have control over the rights of the image. You can hang it on the wall and enjoy it but to exploit the work for personal gain will not be allowed.

It is important to both buyers and sellers of artistic works that they know what rights are attached to the work that is intangible and discuss them accordingly so that everyone knows what they are buying. 

If you'd like to know more about this article please send an email to Thomas Mould quoting the article title and any questions you might have, alternatively call the office number on 02380 235 979 or send an enquiry through our contact form.

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