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Close v. Sotheby’s, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
894 F.3d 1061 (2018)
The California Resale Royalty Act (CRRA), effective January 1977, gave artists an unwaivable right to receive resale royalties from any resale of their artwork in California until 20 years after the artist’s death. In 2011, Chuck Close (plaintiff) and other artists sued Sotheby’s, Inc. (defendant), an auction house, for failing to pay CRRA royalties on resales. Sotheby’s challenged CRRA, arguing it conflicted with the first-sale doctrine and was (1) expressly preempted by the Copyright Act of 1976 (1976 Act); and (2) conflict preempted by the Copyright Act of 1909 (1909 Act) for sales before the 1976 Act’s effective date in January 1978. The district court struck down CRRA, holding it was expressly preempted by the 1976 Act and conflict preempted by the 1909 Act. Close appealed, arguing CRRA was not preempted by the 1976 Act because (a) CRRA mandated resale royalties but did not restrict a buyer’s right to freely resell purchased works under the first-sale doctrine and (b) artists could replicate CRRA’s resale royalty rights by private contract.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bybee, J.)
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