The Difference between US and European Intellectual Property Rights for the Visual Arts Widens, as the US Appeal Court Rules
Originating as an extension of French copyright law in the 1920s, an artist’s resale rights, or droit de suite, is now a common feature of an artist’s moral right across Europe. Such right affords artists royalty payments upon subsequent sales of original works of art. In stark contrast, however, the US codified what is known as the First Sale Doctrine, whereby the copyright holder’s right to control reproductions and displays of an artwork does not extend to the original work itself, thus limiting absolute ownership and pre-empting the artist from having an interest in the resale of such work. This doctrine was codified in the federal Copyright Act 1976 (FCA).
Only one year later, in 1977, California attempted to challenge the First Sale Doctrine by enacting the California Resale Royalties Act (CRRA) which granted artists an unwaivable right to 5% of the proceeds of any resale of their artwork in specified circumstances, such right being akin to that afforded to artists across Europe.
In 2011, several artists and their successors sought recovery of these royalties from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and eBay. After a seven-year legal battle, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (“Ninth Circuit”) having already limited the resale right to sales only within California in 2015, the case came to the Ninth Circuit once more. In its recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit has limited such rights even further by holding that the FCA pre-empts them in their entirety. However, the predecessor to the FCA (the Copyright Act 1909) did not pre-empt such rights. The court found that the artists did have a right, but it was limited to a one-year period: from 1 January 1977 when the CRRA came into force until 1 January 1978 when the FCA became effective.
This decision highlights the distinctions between the US and the European attitudes towards royalties, despite the US becoming a signatory to the Berne Convention, which recognises an artist’s right to an interest in subsequent sales of artworks, back in 1989.
It is thought that the royalty right provided by the CRRA has been neglected by many of California’s galleries and auction houses. However, this decision will affect those artists who have been actively collecting their royalties, and throws into question any past or future attempts by either the federal government or other states to enact legislation granting royalty rights across the US.
An Assessment to Tax is never ‘stale’, but it might be out of date: HMRC v Tooth
This article briefly discusses the key points arising out of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth  UKSC 17. The case considered (1) whether a discovery assessment could become “stale” and (2) the meaning of the phrase “deliberate inaccuracy”.
VATA 1994 s.47, Agency, Onward Supply Relief, & Double Taxation
On 12 July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (“FTT”) released its decision in Scanwell Logistics (UK) Limited v HMRC  UKFTT 261 (TC), rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for onward supply relief (“OSR”).
Whilst OSR is now limited, post-Brexit, to goods imported into Northern Ireland for onward supply to the EU, the FTT’s discussion of agency under section 47 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”) is of broader interest.
The case serves as a reminder of the significant financial consequences that can result from errors in tax planning, as Scanwell was ultimately held liable for £5.7 million in unpaid import VAT despite the fact that the imported goods almost immediately left the UK (which, if properly planned, could have meant Scanwell was relieved from liability to import VAT).
Draft Finance Bill 2022—tax avoidance measures
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, considers the draft Finance Bill 2022 clauses published on 20 July 2021 in relation to tax avoidance and recent updates to the tax avoidance regime.
Getting Closer: A Global Minimum Tax on Corporations
On 1 July 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that countries representing over 90% of global GDP had agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations (“GMCT”). The GMCT seeks to put a floor on tax competition on corporate income through the introduction of a minimum corporate tax of at least 15%. Whilst certain elements give rise to positive expectations, some caveats should be noted. Much will depend on (1) the outcome of future political negotiations and (2) the detail of the drafting at international and national levels.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.