Thursday, March 05, 2009

"I feel strongly about it. Artists need to be rewarded for their hard work"

The Wall Street Journal had a story yesterday on the state employee whose job it is to track down artists who are owed money under the California Resale Royalty Act.

It's a fun piece, but I just want to point out one thing. The article summarizes the law as follows:

"When a work of art is resold in the state, or by a California resident, the seller must set aside 5% of the gross selling price to pay the artist."

There's some dispute, however, about the part I've highlighted. On its face, the statute does seem to apply -- no matter where a sale takes place -- so long as the seller is a California resident. But in a letter to a state assemblyman around the time the statute was enacted, the then California legislative counsel said that in his opinion the law was constitutional only as applied to sales occurring within California. As far as I'm aware, the question has never been addressed by a court.

Here is a list of artists who are currently owed money.