Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking with Alma Robinson, Executive Director for California Lawyers for the Arts. She reminded me that in 1977, California passed a law (California Civil Code 986) that entitles artists to 5% or more of the resale price of works over $1,000. In order to take advantage of this entitlement, artists should remember to:
- include reference to this entitlement in the initial contract of sale
- negotiate the amount of the royalty (minimum 5%) at the time of initial sale
- include information in the contract of sale on how payment is to be made, i.e., form of payment, timeliness of payment, where you can be reached, etc.
If a seller cannot locate the artist to effectuate payment at the time of resale, the seller is obliged to make the payment to the California Arts Council, which then attempts to make contact with the artist and arrange payment.
Laws are complicated and exclusions apply, so I urge you to seek further information by logging on to http://www.cac.ca.gov/resaleroyaltyact/resaleroyaltyact.php.
Who knows, perhaps the California Arts Council is waiting for you to claim a royalty payment?