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Court sides with National Gallery on artist’s fees

We are sorry to say that in a split decision, the Federal Court of Appeal decided that the National Gallery of Canada did not negotiate in bad faith with CARFAC and our Quebec partner RAAV.

Essentially, the Court said that artists have the right to be paid less than the minimum fees if they choose. CARFAC and RAAV want to establish minimum fees that would be binding – the equivalent of a minimum wage.

In 2007, during bargaining for a scale agreement, the National Gallery unilaterally refused to continue to negotiate binding minimum exhibition and reproduction fees for the use of artists’ work.

CARFAC and RAAV filed a complaint and the gallery was initially found guilty of bargaining in bad faith. The gallery asked for a judicial review – and we found out this week that they won.

This is not the outcome we were hoping for but we shouldn’t let ourselves be discouraged.

Despite the fact that our budget is only a fraction of the size of the National Gallery’s we have put up a good fight. We are now considering our options. One of the three judges disagreed with the decision. This may leave room for us to appeal to the Supreme Court.

We would like to thank all the artists and individuals who gave so generously to our legal fund. Thanks to your contributions, we were able to stand up in court and say that artists deserve more.

Regardless of what happens next, CARFAC and RAAV will continue to fight to ensure that artists are not pressured to accept less than they deserve.

Your ongoing support will be critical.

We have set up a statement you can sign to reaffirm the importance of minimum artist fees. Let’s make it clear that although we have lost this round, we stand united in the belief that artists deserve to be paid more, not less.

I support minimum artist fees – no artist should be asked to accept less!


As you know, CARFAC and RAAV recommend minimum exhibition and reproduction fees for galleries to pay for the use of artists’ work. These fees are voluntary – many galleries pay them but some pressure artists to waive their rights.

What’s different about the fees we want to negotiate with the National Gallery is that they would be binding – the equivalent of a minimum wage. Artists would still be free to negotiate higher rates.

The gallery argues that because CARFAC and RAAV do not own the copyright for the works in question, we are taking away the artists’ right to be paid less.

Thank you for your ongoing support in the fight for minimum artists’ fees!

More information about CARFAC and RAAV’s negotiations with the National Gallery of Canada.