Labor MP Bob McMullan is intending to introduce a private members bill when Parliament next sits (on 27 March) that would give artists royalties on the resale of their creations.

The form of the bill as posted on Mr McMullan’s website would create a sliding scale of royalties payable on the “sale price” (being the price obtained for the sale, net of tax payable) as follows:

Portion of the sale price: Percentage
From 0 to $100,000 4%
From $100,000.01 to $400,000 3%
From $400,000.01 to $700,000 1%
From $700,000.01 to $1,000,000 0.5%
Exceeding $1,000,000 0.25%

with a maximum cap of $25,000. The right cannot be waived.

The bill would include any testamentary transmission (ie inheritance) of the work, and the resale right would subsist so long as the copyright did — in other words, when the first purchaser’s great great grandson dies, and his estate sells a work, it is likely to have to pay the royalty to the great great grandson of the creator.

Regular inheritances seem free of the royalty: the bill refers to “sale price”, which does not seem to pick up transfers free of consideration, as would be the case in most testamentary transmissions. (Although there seems an error in the definition section, which wrongly refers to s.248X(4) instead of s.248X(5).)

This could get very controversial.