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From now on, when Congressman Seth Moulton of Salem goes to work, he might be forgiven for imagining he can smell the salt sea air of home.

Four paintings and one sculpture, all on loan courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, now reside in Moulton's Washington, D.C.,   office. Each reflects either the 6th District's links to the sea or the bloodlines of Marblehead, where Moulton grew up.

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A new bill introduced in Washington, DC last week seeks to block looted Syrian cultural heritage from entering the US. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act asks Congress to appoint a cultural property protection czar and establish emergency import restrictions to protect endangered cultural patrimony. The bill aims to “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures,” says the congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, in a statement. Engel is co-sponsoring the legislation with Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.

Black market sales of looted cultural objects are the largest source of funding for the Islamic State after oil, according to Newsweek.

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A bill that would bring droit de suite, also known as artist resale royalty rights, to the US is gaining momentum in Congress. The bill has gained six co-sponsors in the past three weeks, including the representatives Sam Farr of California and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois. At a hearing yesterday, 15 July, in Washington, DC, experts including Karyn Temple Claggett, the director of policy and international affairs for the US copyright office, testified in support of the bill.

The chairman of the committee considering the royalty, the Republican Howard Coble of North Carolina, also said at the start of the hearing that he was “not uncomfortable with the concept of a resale royalty”.

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Major auction houses are voicing opposition to a new bill called the American Royalties Too Act, which would grant visual artists (or their estates) a portion of the profits when their work is resold at public auction. The bill was introduced last month in the House by Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, and in the Senate by Democrats Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

In December 2013, the United States Copyright Office re-examined its policy concerning visual artists and resale royalties. Last time the issue was explored, which was in 1992, the Office decided that artists should not receive a share of the profits when their works are resold. However, after more than a decade, the Copyright Office reversed its decision and stated that resale royalties should be awarded to visual artists, including painters, illustrators, sculptors, and photographers.

Lawyers for Sotheby’s visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill this month, asking Congress to shoot down the bill. They are joined in the fight by Christie’s, who have hired David Israelite, a royalty battle veteran and the CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association. The auction houses consider the bill an added cost that will increase the price of doing business, which could lead to more sellers making deals through private transactions rather than public auctions. They are also arguing that the royalties would solely benefit the most successful artists and estates as they are the ones whose work is most often sold in the secondary market. Galleries and dealers are not included in the proposed bill.

Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will decide whether to schedule hearings on the bill.

According to a report released on December 13 by the United States Copyright Office, in the past two decades, over 70 countries have changed their policies concerning resale royalties to better serve visual artists.  

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For the first time since 1992, the United States Copyright Office has re-examined its policy concerning visual artists and resale royalties. Last time the issue was explored, the Office decided that artists should not receive a share of the profits when their works are resold. However, after more than a decade, the Copyright Office has reversed its decision and is asking Congress to reconsider giving resale royalties to visual artists including painters, illustrators, sculptors and photographers.

In a report released on Friday, December 13, the Office admitted that “the current system leaves visual artists at a practical disadvantage in relation to other kinds of authors…. Because most artworks are not produced in copies, the visual artist receives a financial interest in only one work – or at best a few copies of that work. To alleviate the effects of this financial disparity, the Office believes that Congress should consider ways to rectify the problem and to further incentivize and support the development and creation of visual art.”

In the past two decades, over 70 countries have changed their policies concerning resale royalties to better serve visual artists.

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Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, which includes the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Freer Gallery of Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of African Art, will be closed due to the first government shutdown in 17 years. A number of non-government run museums including the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection plan on staying open during the shutdown. The National Mall attracts millions of visitors from across the globe and generates millions of dollars in tourism business per day.

The government shutdown was spurred by Congress’ inability to reach an agreement on spending. There is no end date for the closure, which began on Tuesday and has forced approximately 800,000 federal workers to stay home from their jobs.

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The New York Public Library announced that it will put its original copy of the Bill of Rights on public display for the first time in decades. The document, which has been in the library’s collection since 1896, will go on view during the fall of 2014, commemorating the 225th anniversary of the document being drafted and proposed by Congress. The Bill of Rights will go on display alternately at the New York Public Library and in Pennsylvania at the National Constitution Center.

The document was previously unable to be displayed for extensive periods of time due to preservation issues. A special case, which was constructed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, will ensure the document’s safety while it travels. The state-of-the-art preservation device, which cost an estimated $600,000 to create, was made possible by a generous gift from Ed Wachenheim III, a Trustee of the Library, and his wife, Sue.

The document is one of at least 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights, which was sent by the First Congress of the United States to the 13 colonies, 11 of which had already become states, and to the Federal government in 1789. Four of the states, including New York and Pennsylvania, no longer have their copies of the Bill.

Beginning in 2014, the document will be displayed alternately by the Library and the Constitution Center equally for the first six year. After that, the Library will display the document 60% of the time.

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