Canada’s Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez are collaborating to draft a reform of the country’s copyright laws that would allow artists to profit from the resale of their work , according to the Canadian daily Globe and Mail reports. The effort aims to help Canada’s approximately 21,000 artists, many of whom routinely work below the poverty line. Inuit artists in particular will benefit: because these artists generally live and work in remote areas and sell their work there, they are deprived when the galleries that buy their work resell it.
“Artists are the group in Canada that represents the largest percentage of the working poor, that is, below the poverty line,” said Senator Patricia Bovey, who led the campaign to change the law on copyright. Bovey, the first art historian to be elected to the Canadian Senate, is a former director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and a longtime advocate for artists’ rights. “It is our artists who tell us who we are, where we are, what we face as a society. If they can’t support themselves financially, we’ll lose that really important window into who we are as Canadians,” she said, noting that French copyright law has granted for over resale right to artists for a century.
According to the Canadian non-profit organization CARFAC, which is responsible for representing the country’s visual artists, more than ninety countries around the world currently have copyright protections in place that give artists some of the income when their work is resold. The United States is not one of them, although in recent years art forumAs Peter J. Karol and Guy A. Rub note, many “smart contracts” associated with NFT sales have included built-in resale royalties that enable automatic distribution of proceeds to artists each time a given work is resold. CARFAC is currently pushing for Canadian artists to receive 5% of a work’s resale value, and for their estates to receive this proceeds within decades of their death.