On July 6, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California’s 1977 Resale Royalties Act (CRRA) only applies to art sales conducted prior to 1978, the date the federal Copyright Act went into effect.

Painters and sculptors have argued through many appeals that auction houses owe them five percent of sales of their works of art under California’s state law. However, the Ninth Circuit’s July 9th ruling found that the CRRA “fundamentally reshapes the contours of federal copyright law’s existing distribution right; meaning the CRRA falls within the subject matter of the Copyright Act…therefore it is expressly preempted … and plaintiffs’ CRRA claims arising after the effective date of the 1976 act — January 1, 1978 — are barred.”

The cases are The Sam Francis Foundation et al. v. eBay Inc., case number 16-56252; Estate of Robert Graham et al. v. Sotheby’s Inc., case number 16-56234; The Sam Francis Foundation et al. v. Christie’s Inc., case number 16-56235, all in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business litigation firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright law. Managing partner Steven T. Lowe has authored the “Death of Copyright” trilogy, the latest article of which, entitled “Death of Copyright 3: The Awakening,” was published in this summer’s Los Angeles Lawyer magazine.

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On February 27, 2024, the writer of the 1989 film ‘Road House’ sued Amazon Studios, LLC, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. R. Lance Hill, also known as David Lee Henry, alleges that Amazon ignored his copyright for the screenplay and rushed to finish the film by using artificial intelligence before he was able to complete the termination of his original assignment to United Artists under Section 203 of the Copyright Act.

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