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Copyright on a Resold Painting?

By December 7, 2012

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"Can the buyer buy my painting and then sell it without the painter knowing? Who owns the copyright?"
Having possession of the physical painting isn't the same as owning copyright over it. Unless it was work for hire or you transferred copyright when you sold the painting, it remains yours.

There's nothing stopping someone from selling a painting they've bought, and they don't have to inform you. Whether the new owners will know about the copyright situation is an uncertainty. Providing a certificate of authenticity with the painting that stipulates this might help. Some countries provide artists resale rights over a certain value, but private sellers are excluded from this.


December 7, 2012 at 1:14 am
(1) Ed Smiley says:

This immediately caught my eye, being a Californian, as I happened to know that there is a resale royalty law here, the only one of 50 states in the US.

“The law holds that anytime a work is resold in California, or is resold by a California owner anywhere else in the world, the seller’s agent must pay 5 percent of any sale price over $1,000 to the original artist. The artist must only be a U.S. citizen or California resident to qualify for the California resale royalty.”

It’s been on the books for 35 years, and has been upheld in a federal court and some artists have collected royalties on resales.
However, I was distressed to find that one federal court threw it out, so I’m not sure what its status is right now.

Here’s the full article.

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