Comments from Australian and Canadian artists on the controversial art resale right

One of the Liberal party proposed amendments to C-32 is to "Introduce a new resale right on art, similar to European laws". I believe it is important for Canadians thinking about copyright policy to recognise that the idea is quite controversial within the art community that this policy alleges to support.

When the idea came up recently in another forum I was contacted by a pair of Australian artists, Dr Anne Sanders and John R Walker who have been following the Canadian debate closely as well. A few days ago they sent me a link to a detailed letter published on Jeremy Phillip's 1709 blog.

They explain quite well that the primary beneficiary of a mandatory royalty scheme would be an intermediary, the collective society, and not the artist whose material reward for their art may in fact go down.

This view is shared by Canadian artist George McLean who was recently featured in an article by Peter Worthington in the Toronto Sun titled: This artist doesn't want 'greedy' handout

We need to be very careful in Copyright policy to ensure that the primary beneficiaries are Canadian creators and their audiences and fans, not intermediaries. A majority of C-32 discussion from the governing Conservatives or the opposition has been focused on policies that benefit technology platform intermediaries (AKA: technical measures), collective societies (Access Copyright with Education, CPCC with the recorded music levy, etc), or other intermediaries (Education institutional exceptions), often to the detriment of both creators and audiences.

One of the most harmful thing for creators is for governments to confuse copyright with a government funding program. It is inevitable that this will backfire and harm the very group that the funding program embedded into Copyright law was alleged to help. Government funding programs must be kept as far away from copyright law as possible.

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Silly artists, handouts are for losers

As a Canadian artist and an art historian I am appalled by the number of artists out there worrying about personal copyright.

I personally couldn't care less if people lift my artwork off my website and use it for whatever, so long as its used for something I agree with.

Lets take for example the incident when Time Magazine ripped off one of my paintings (United States Censorship) and used a variation of it on the cover of their magazine.

Am I upset about it? No, not really. Its bound to happen. If anything its an honour. I'm not going to sue them for using my artwork as the basis for their cover idea.

Copyright laws to me are largely obsolete. Its only if the original artist has money, a lawyer and feels like being frivolous that people should worry about it. Artists need to realize that imitation is a form of flattery and the old adage "if you're going to steal, steal from the best" is becoming more common.

My advice to my fellow artists is to just get used to it. Don't squabble over things that you can't change. The genie is out of the bottle.