This past week a federal appeals court stripped Californian visual artists of the right to collect royalties from resales of their work. There is no global consensus on royalty rights for artists, as they differ all over the world. I believe however that artists have the right to benefit from the resale of their work.
Actors get royalties from films and TV shows. Authors often get royalties from their books. In this case, it depends on the contract, for sometimes publishers just buy their books outright and refuse them royalties. Many of the top visual artists are represented by galleries that help the artists career by selling their art and being their consigliere. In these relationships, the gallerist takes a percentage of the artist’s royalties, just like an agent does for actors.
When an artist sells one of their pieces to a museum or a collector, they simultaneously hand over ownership. This is why buying art is thought of as an investment. A collector buys a piece and is able to sell it later for profit. It is an industry with little regulation to pricing, and it often follows the economics 101 law of price and demand.
Regardless of ownership, I believe that the artist should always get cut of every sale. Being able to create collectible art is a gift. We should be applauding visual artists by giving them lifetime royalties just as we do for actors. The difference in artistic medium does not matter. We should protect the rights of all artists.