US Copyright Office cites Art Law Society, Christopher Sprigman in report

The US Copyright Office cited comments by students of the Art Law Society and articles by Christopher Sprigman in a recent report on resale royalties for visual art.

The report concluded that certain visual artists may be at a disadvantage under the copyright law because they benefit from only the initial sale of the work, while collectors benefit from the increase in the work’s value over time.

The Art Law Society’s Michael Brand ’15, Matt Callahan ’15, Michal Flombaum ’14, Elyssa Goldberg ’15, Ava McAlpin ’13, Zoey Orol ’13, and Christoffer Stromstedt ’15 worked on the comment under the guidance of Associate Professor of Clinical Law Jason Schultz, an intellectual property scholar who helped brainstorm ideas and read drafts. Amy Adler, Emily Kempin Professor of Law and faculty adviser to the Art Law Society, also read the comment and later helped the group plan a panel on the subject of resale royalties that included the artist Frank Stella.

“There is almost certainly going to be an effort at comprehensive copyright reform in the next two years in DC. This issue of resale royalties is one of the priorities for the current head of the copyright office,” said Schultz. He added, “The economic, cultural, and technological aspects of producing art have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, so how the rule on resale royalties develops could have a substantial impact on how viable it is for artists to make a living going forward.”

In the report, the Copyright Office also cited an article on the Freakonomics blog and an article in the University of Chicago Law Review by Professor of Law Christopher Jon Sprigman. Resale royalties, writes Sprigman, will hurt most artists and benefit only those who are already the most successful.

Posted January 21, 2014