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The Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA), the British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) and the Society of London Art Dealers (SLAD) were concerned that dealers risked falling foul of the law because it is not always clear who is the original owner of a print.

Particularly confusing is where a publisher sells a print on behalf of an artist. Does that constitute the first sale, or the first resale, where the levy might apply?

Although they say their new guidelines could be challenged by the collecting agencies, the dealer associations believe that they offer the best advice for anyone buying and selling prints.

The so-called Droit de Suite European Union directive affects categories A to C of the British Standard Classification of Prints. This includes prints made entirely by the artist or where the artist worked with others to create the print matrix. Under the rules, the levy is due on each resale over €1000 if it takes place more than three years after the original sale, or immediately if the sale price is €10,000 or more.

Now LAPADA, BADA and SLAD argue that where the publisher works with the artist, covering the production costs, the publisher is effectively the joint owner of the work, so when they sell it, it constitutes the first sale of the work, and the levy does not apply.

Of course, where the publisher, not the artist, is the original owner of the print, the levy would not apply at all, because only works originally owned by the artist qualify.