Resale Royalty scheme hits $11 million milestone

April 5, 2022

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP and Copyright Agency join in celebrating Australia’s resale royalty scheme hitting the $11 million milestone.

This milestone marks the level of the contribution that visual artists make to Australia’s cultural landscape – it will encourage artists to know that, whatever they are initially paid for the products of their hard work and creativity, they will have a fair share in any future success their work achieves”, Minister Fletcher said.

CEO of the Copyright Agency Josephine Johnston says the scheme continues to grow, with more than 220 artists receiving their first resale royalty in the last financial year and a further 150 since then. The scheme generated more than $1.6 million in resale royalties within the last financial year. “The scheme’s success lies in its ability to recognise the ongoing rights of an artist through the commercial resale of their artwork, providing them with an additional source of income through resale and a better understanding of the price of future works.”

Over the life of the scheme, 2,300 artists and estates have received one or more resale royalties, from more than 25,000 sales. The majority – 80 per cent – of all royalties are between $50 and $500, and more than 46 per cent of royalties have been paid directly to living artists, with the remainder paid to artists’ estates and beneficiaries.

“The scheme continues to deliver much-needed income to artists and provide information to artists on the changing value of their work and how it progresses through the art market,” Ms Johnston says. “Australian artists, from emerging to established, remote to urban, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous, have embraced the scheme. It is a sign of respect, adds to their economic wellbeing and importantly, protects their ethical rights in the resale of their works.”

“As Aboriginal art sales continue to rise, driven by widespread demand both nationally and internationally, the scheme is important in tracking the demand and value of the artworks.

More than 65 per cent of the artists participating in the scheme are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, receiving 38 per cent of the scheme’s total, which flows back into artists’ communities in remote and regional Australia.

The scheme has had significant impact in remote and regional locations, with 35 per cent of the artists residing in the NT and central Australia. Of the top 50 artists who have received the most resale royalties, 18 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The major beneficiary of the scheme has been our Indigenous artists, with a wide range of non-Indigenous artists also benefiting” adds Ms Johnston.

Philip Watkins, the CEO of Desart, the peak arts body for central Australian Aboriginal arts and crafts centres, says, “The resale royalty scheme has provided many benefits to artists in our region, returning an income to the artists and their families and providing recognition and acknowledgement of ongoing interest in their artworks.

“The scheme provides a measurement of the success of an artist’s profile in the market, helping them to price accordingly, and fairly, for future works. For older artists, who may no longer be able to paint, it enables them and their families to earn an income from the artwork that falls within the resale royalty threshold. It also supports and protects the provenance of the artwork as it passes through the market, now and into the future.”

CEO of Indigenous Art Code Gabrielle Sullivan says the scheme is vital for artists because it acknowledges the discrepancy that can exist between what the artist is paid and what the artwork is later sold for. “It’s an important recognition and helps the artist to understand the value of their artwork in the market. The payment offers an additional source of income in what is a challenging marketplace for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.”

Australian multi-disciplinary artist, Abdul Abdullah believes the resale royalty is important to artists as it allows them to have sustainable practices over a lifetime and to share in the ongoing success of the works we produce on the secondary market. “As primary producers we can miss out on the lion’s share of the gains created by what we make, and this way that success is shared.”

Wendy Sharpe, one of Australia’s most acclaimed artists, believes resale royalty in the visual arts gives it parity with other art forms such as authors and composers. “Even a modest amount  of money can accumulate  and it’s an important acknowledgment of the artist’s work. It offers a level of fairness particularly to the heirs of deceased artists who were not financially successful in their life time, and has played a role in helping to redress disadvantage and exploitation of Indigenous artists.”

NAVA Executive Director, Penelope Benton says,“NAVA enthusiastically celebrates this tremendous milestone. With 81 percent of visual artists earning less than $25,000 in the 2020-21 financial year, the Resale Royalty Scheme makes an incredibly important contribution to the sustainability of artists’ careers. Many Australian artists appreciate the income they derive from this scheme and its affirmation of their ongoing interest in their work.”

Resale rights are now recognised in more than 81 countries.

For more information on the resale royalty scheme, go to

About the Copyright Agency
The not-for-profit Copyright Agency connects users and creators of content, providing licences for the use of copyright material such as text, images, art and survey plans. We manage the educational and government licences for the use of text and images, as well as the resale royalty scheme for artists (by Government appointment). Our members include writers, artists, surveyors and publishers. Membership is free.





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