True Looks for the Sales Tax Options

Such figures hardly allow, for lack of additional information, to get an idea on the merits of all those who, like many galleries, consider that the people who receive the resale right are by definition people of a certain notoriety, which in general do not need it. On the other hand, they are sufficient to demonstrate the inaccuracy of the idea according to which the bulk of this levy would go to a dozen families of artists. The use of the sales tax calculator zip code is there.

The right of reproduction

The reproduction right results from article L122-3 of the intellectual property code, which provides that the author receives remuneration for the authorized reproduction of his work.

The problem of reproductions of works of art in auction catalogs arose a few years ago when the owner of the reproduction right of Utrillo’s work brought legal action against Master Loudmer, for to have reproduced without his authorization two paintings of the artist.

  • Initially, the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris admitted in a judgment dated April 8, 1997 that the reproduction of a painting in an auction catalog should be considered a “short quotation”, within the meaning of article 47.3 of the law of March 11, 1957, not requiring the authorization of its author, since the work in question was “reproduced for the sole purpose of informing potential buyers and in an exclusive presentation of any other use”.
  • On appeal, the first chamber of the Paris court of appeal confirmed on March 20, 1989, the court’s judgment. At the same time, the 4th Chamber of the same court adopted, in July 1989, still on a complaint from the owner of the rights of Utrillo, the opposite position, condemning the large Anglo-Saxon auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, for infringement.

In cassation, in two judgments delivered on the same day on January 22, 1991, the supreme court decided that “the complete reproduction” of a work of art in a sales catalog “could not in any case be analyzed as a short quote”. It therefore confirmed the decision against the Anglo-Saxon houses and quashed the judgment in favor of Me Loudmer.

The Specific Options

But the judicial soap opera continued, because the court of Versailles to which the Loudmer case was referred, refused to bow before the court of cassation. It persisted in considering in a judgment dated November 20, 1991, that a reproduction in a sales catalog could be assimilated to a short quotation, insofar as this reproduction “adopts in particular as regards the dimensions a rather small format for the reduce to the rank of a simple allusion or, at the very least, part of a whole of reference which is the work itself”.


This judgment was overturned by the plenary assembly of the Court of Cassation (November 5, 1993). The case would have had only a limited scope if the collecting societies had not felt obliged to ask Anglo-Saxon auction houses for reproduction rights for those of their members, whose works had been published in various sales catalogs (distributed in France).

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