Daniel Law Blog

Comments on developments in law, arts, entertainment, and business

9th Circuit Votes Rehearing En Banc in California's Artist Resale Royalty Case

Various artists, their heirs, and foundations sued Christie's and eBay alleging that they violated the California Artist Resale Royalty Act, which establishes a right for artists to receive a portion of the proceeds from resale of their artistic works under specified conditions.  The Act applies to sales of fine art when the seller resides in California or the sale occurs in California.  

France and a number of European countries recognize an artist's right to resale royalties (droit de suite).  California is the only state with a resale royalty law in the U.S.  

Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has introduced a bill in Congress that would create a federal resale royalty right under limited circumstances.

The district court in California upheld Christie's and eBay claim that the California statute violates the so-called dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it substantially affects interstate commerce and per se violates the Constitution, thus invalidating the entire California statute.  

The Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their claims, the appeals were briefed, and oral argument was heard by a 3-judge panel.

After argument to the panel, the Court asked for further briefing on whether there was an internal conflict of decisions on the Commerce Clause issue within the 9th Circuit.  

After the supplemental briefing, the Court voted to rehear the appeals en banc, prior to any decision on the merits by the panel.  The en banc argument will be heard during the week of December 15, 2014.