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Previous attempts to bring an artists' royalties scheme to the US have largely failed. The late Senator Edward Kennedy tried to enact the resale right in the 1980s as part of the Visual Artists' Rights Act but it proved so contentious that it was removed from the final draft.

However, Theodore Feder, president of the Artists' Rights Society (ARS) believes the new proposal is different as it will not apply to works of art sold through galleries - only those sold at auction.

This fudge would largely excuse US dealers of the bureaucracy faced by Europe's art trade and bypass a vocal community that has objected whenever the migration of droit de suite across the Atlantic has been mooted.

The ARS's champion is the high-profile advocate Bruce Lehman, a former commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office who helped draft the original 1976 US copyright law.

As acting president of the International Council of Creators of Graphic, Plastic and Photographic Arts, the artist Frank Stella attended this year's World Copyright Summit in Brussels in June to push for resale rights in the United States.

Should the ARS be successful in introducing their abridged version of resale rights into federal law, it would certainly soften one of the most powerful arguments used in opposing the levy in Europe, that the art market doesn't respect national boundaries.

The debate in Britain has been reignited as the 2012 deadline approaches, when the levy will be extended beyond its current form (benefiting only living artists) to include artists' heirs or estates up to 70 years after their death.