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The National Education already own network presents a law in the news with Professor Joseph R. Julan associate dean of the University of Michigan Law School. Should works of art be considered by the law as oil wells. Well before one jumps to a hasty negative response let me explain. It is common for a landowner not really knowing the subsurface potential of his tract of land to lease his acreage to an oil and gas developer in the hopes of course of striking it rich. This lease typically provides a landowner with a royalty amounting to a fraction of all that is produced. The fraction or less ores royalty is depending on the area of the country in question usually one eighth or one sixth of all that is produced. There is no certainty that the land owner will receive anything by way of royalties since the drilling may result in no more than a very deep hole a dry hole in the terms of the trade. But what does this oil and gas royalty arrangement have to do with the world of art. Perhaps that is stretching things a bit to suggest that a painter should be considered as a
landowner and his work the unexploded and unknown source of possible wealth. On the other hand why shouldn't a painter share in the increment in value of his creation if in fact it does increase in value once it is placed in the stream of commerce. Why shouldn't he retain as a matter of law some form of royalty to be paid to him. If and when the owner of the painting sells it at a handsome profit. There are many examples of initial sales usually by the painter himself of works for a nominal sum. True value only subsequently to be reflected in the sales to which the painter is no party. One French painting was originally sold for twelve hundred francs thereafter to bring to a happy owner one million francs and American story is one of the pater having received one hundred dollars for a painting which sold eventually for four hundred thousand dollars in New York Attorney Diane B. Shoulder pleads for the artists in such cases in urging the incorporation of a so-called art proceeds act in the revision of the copyright
laws of the United States now under way. She does not. Knowledge is the law of oil and gas to what she would have the law of art be. Rather she looks to the laws of other countries in a carefully prepared analysis of the problem appearing in a recent issue of the Northwestern University Law Review. France in one thousand twenty adopted legislation which gives an artist the right to claim a percentage of the sales price each time his work is resold. The royalty to the artist is 3 percent an amount which has not affected the market significantly. Other countries permit the artist to share solely in the increase in value reflected in higher and higher purchase prices. Under such a legislative pattern the percentages range from 1 to 10 percent in Italy to 20 percent in Poland and Czechoslovakia with there being a high of 25 percent this capital gains their area of compensation is obviously much more difficult to administer than a straight though more nominal percentage on the sales price. It would make sense to couple this artist's proceeds
proposal with some authentication process perhaps as New York attorney shoulder suggests by establishing a federal registry. As mentioned last week on this program the fakery forgery potential within the world of art has become big business. The curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art has recently said that few people even in the art world are aware of the extent of faking in more recent American Art increasing interest in our art combined with lack of adequate scholarship has made America the fakers paradise. Perhaps with the right kind of legislation we could deal the forgers a fatal blow while coincidentally permitting the artist to retain through a simple process some economic interest in his contribution to our American culture. For how long. The proposed art proceeds Act would create a 3 percent nontransferable right in the artist whenever an original work of art shall be re transferred at auction or through a
dealer for a price of $300 or above the duration of this royalty being for the life of the artist or for the duration of the copyright if there is drawn whichever period is longer. Oh I agree a painting isn't much like an oil well but if it's possible to become rich is the minerals beneath one's land are exploited. I don't really see why we shouldn't make sure that the artists who contribute so much to our American cultural wealth share in the economic exploitation of their works. PROFESSOR JOSEPH R. Julan associate dean of the University of Michigan Law School as a presented law in the news recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting services. This is the national educational radio network.
Law in the news
Art values and the law
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Program number 398 focuses on art values and the law.
Series Description
This series focuses on current news stories that relate to the law.
Broadcast Date
Public Affairs
Politics and Government
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Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-35a-398 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:05:05
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Chicago: “Law in the news; Art values and the law,” 1969-01-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
MLA: “Law in the news; Art values and the law.” 1969-01-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2024. <>.
APA: Law in the news; Art values and the law. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from