The success of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and ultimately the Government of Jamaica, could be boosted further if attention is given to the matter of “Droit De Suite” (right to follow) for Visual artists in Jamaica. As a Sculptor, Arts Educator and Educational leader, I believe that the introduction of contemporary legislation will protect the visual artists and their monies/royalties in every sense. My proposition is concerned with the need for the adoption of a Jamaican version of “Droit De Suite”.
In my opinion such a calculative move will ensure monetary returns to the creators of visual art and their intellectual property rights as it relates to the resale of artworks in Jamaica and abroad; the artist or their estate must have the right as the creator of works of art to collect royalties on the resale of their works.
I didn’t invent this concept: it is an 18th-century French legislative practice that is enforced to this day. Historically, it speaks to, “a right recognized by the legislation of several member countries of the European Union whereby an artist, his or her estate, is entitled to a share of the price of a work of art if it is resold during the artist’s lifetime or for 70 years after his or her death”. The benefits thereafter would protect the artist and their creations on a broad scale and would further concretize the work for the Ministry of Culture as it relates to the compensation of our artists through the years and for the historical tracking and preservation of Jamaican art in Jamaica, the Caribbean diaspora and the world.
How does Droit de Suite work?
The big questions here are: how do artists make money when their works are sold at auction? What responsibility, if any, does the law have to ensure that artists receive compensation for their works that are sold for millions following primary sales? Droit de suite speaks to the advancement of a vibrant arts and law community. It is a straightforward legal clause to ensure that “every time an artist’s work is resold within a certain statutorily-defined period (in most jurisdictions, the life of the artist plus 50 to 70 years), the artist is entitled to receive a small percentage of the resale value”.
It is evident that the Jamaican fine artist has no protection accordingly; there is an apparent need to better regulate the fine arts industry. In this regard, one wonders where would the School of Visual Arts, The National Gallery of Jamaica, the Institute of Jamaica, Jamaica Guild of Artist, and other applicable stakeholders fall in this discussion? I suggest that there has to be some form of a national registry with the responsibility of mapping and /or tracking Jamaican art, the legitimate owners’ locations and the resale practices of auctions homes here and abroad.
Comparative to the protection of musicians and music copyright laws
A Jamaican form of Droit de suite would grant Jamaican visual artists or their heirs a fee on the resale of their works of art. This would level the playing field for the visual artist, comparable to the benefits that musicians enjoy through the Jamaica Music Society Ltd (JAMMS), The Jamaica Association of Authors. Composers & Publishers (JACAP) and, Jamaica Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY). One should also be cognizant–knowledgeable of the controversial American 1854 copyright infringement first sale doctrine. This document seems to argue confusingly on the topic in terms of “clarity of understanding concerning purchasing a copy of a copyrighted work from the copyright holder and the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner”.
I believe that it is high time for serious dialogue and policy implementation with which to protect Jamaica’s fine artists and the millions of dollars in revenue lost annually through heavy breaches and blatant emasculation. However we may choose to look at it, the bottom line is the Jamaican fine artist remains nakedly vulnerable and prone to heavy manipulation of their intellectual materials.
“Real living is not about the pleasures of personal accomplishments or gain, or the ability to lavish in the sweetness of one’s wealth. Real living is more about the purpose that one can serve in improving the lives of one’s fellow men”.
Dr. Clovis Nelson is an educator and Human Rights activist from Frank field Clarendon in rural Jamaica. He is also a fine artist, sculptor and art educator working in Jamaica and the USA. This article was edited by Ann Smith, Managing Editor of Kinstonmouth.com. Persons wishing to contact |Dr. Clovis Nelson or respond to this article may do so on firstname.lastname@example.org or via Linkedin.