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Waite decks post-expiry


As of today, I believe US Games has declared that the Rider-Waite images are set to unarguably expire in 2021, the required number of UK years after Pixie, the youngest documented person associated with its creation, died. Rather than wrangle the terms of the copyright, I'm curious as to what you think will happen with only seven years left to go, by both the company and artists.

Do you expect US Games to release a proliferation of RWS variants in the next seven years in order to receive as much money from new deck material as possible?

Could we predict an explosion of decks from artists, each with differently coloured or differently sketched versions of the images? Could 2021 and the few years following be The Attack of the Clones?

And do you have a favourite way RWS has not yet been presented that you'd like to see?
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Oh, my! You bring up some very good points. Money making in overdrive!!

And Attack of the Clones doesn't even begin to cover it! Look at the Lenormand Bandwagon. There seems to be a Lenormand for every day of the week and color in the rainbow now!

I can see Photoshopped Rider Waite Images popping up on everything and everywhere.
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Ironically, I think that in terms of actual Tarot, there won't be much of a difference. There are many redrawn or recolored versions that are so different from the original that copyright isn't considered an issue (like the Radiant). Anyone today who wants to make a deck inspired by the RWS may do so, and the Attack of the Clones already happened, copyright notwithstanding. The plus side will be that Tarot books will be able to use the images freely. The downside is, so will everyone else.

Where the biggest change, I think, will factor is in unrelated media. Right now a big part of US Games' enforcement of their copyright is in protecting the name and integrity of the brand. With that gone, we can expect to see RWS toilet paper, Barbie dolls, toys and all manner of merchandising a la George Lucas. On one hand why not eat off a 78-piece set of kitschy dinner plates with Tarot cards on them... but how respectful is that really? Still, the fact that the Mona Lisa itself has become a byword for kitsch doesn't mean it has no merits of its own.
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Theoretically....


I see the points being made here and they're valid...theoretically. When we think about who will likely most care about this, it's those people interested in tarot. There are lots of decks out there and there have been calendars, coffee mugs, etc made of some images, but who likely buys these? I would think for the most part, those will some interest in tarot, although some may just like the images. I don't think there will be this HUGE explosion of the RWS on anything and everything.

There are a LOT of decks out there that have their images on other things, images that may appeal more to a more modern, and less-tarot minded group (think vampire, zombie decks, all manner of decks that a group not interested in tarot would still like some of the images on...things). Would I ever want a coffee mug with the RWS image of Strength on it? I don't know, maybe. Would I find that somehow sacrilegious? No. I think we enjoy having images around us we enjoy. But given the style of the RWS, the one we're discussing, I really don't see a ton of people going, you know, we could make a FORTUNE doing kid's lunchboxes with those images....I don't see it being in the general public's consciousness that much. And readers, well, we have access to so much RWS now. There may be some who do take advantage of the images being available legally, but really they would have to come up with something NOT yet done that likely someone really interested in tarot would want.
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Pixie has nothing to do with it, as she sold her copyright. If she sold it to Waite, then in British law it expired in 2012. If she and Waite sold their rights to Rider & Co, then the UK copyright expired in 1979. In US law, as a work produced before 1923, the copyright went much earlier. US Games can shout as loudly as they like, but they don't have a leg to stand on.
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What is definitive and unarguable is that 2021 is the year when nobody in any company or any country will be able to raise any kind of defence against public domain. No matter how one hairsplits the math or laws, all parties are agreed on 2021.

So I'm using 2021 as the benchmark for discussion of what will happen when we get there and on the way. Seven years isn't a lot of time.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Pixie has nothing to do with it, as she sold her copyright. If she sold it to Waite, then in British law it expired in 2012. If she and Waite sold their rights to Rider & Co, then the UK copyright expired in 1979.
Last year I read up on British copyright. It seems that without a written contract stating that it is a work for hire and that all rights are relinquished, that British law cases have gone in favor of allowing copyright protection to all the creators of a work, their inheritors and to the assignee (usually publisher). American copyright states that all works published before 1923 are in the public domain (with only a few complicated exceptions). I am NOT a lawyer but I did read through the decisions on several similar cases.

The multitudinous editions by different publishers of Pictorial Key to the Tarot makes it clear that that work is deemed out of copyright (at least in the U.S.) and so the black-and-white illustrations are in the the U.S. public domain. Dover books (who are very familiar with public domain as it's their speciality) published a CD containing the RWS color cards, so you can go to that as your source.
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I think there will be a lot of new RWS editions (exact or modified) and some products. The greatest benefit is to small presses and self-publishers who will be able to use the images with impunity in their works. We might also see them appearing more often in a variety of media - TV, movies, apps, etc. rather than the cobbled-together cards that many productions use to avoid copyright issues.
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My recent idea is that Pixie had a copyright to the deck while Waite did not. Rider always mentioned the name of Pamela Colman Smith in their advertisements of Tarot, but not Waite. And Waite himself once wrote that he had no interest in the sale of the Rider Tarot. Yes, he is the author of KT & PKT, but that does not neccesarily means he was the creator of the deck.

Now suppose the PCS's royalty of the Tarot was 10%, and the number of the first production was 2000 decks: the price of the deck being 5 shillings, her income would be 50 pounds. (am I right in the calculation? someone please verify it). 50 pounds for 80 pictures explains her grief "big job for little cash". If the production number was 1000, we might call the situation, "a disaster".

Admitteldy it's just a wild guessing and cannot be proven as all the business documents of Rider & Co. were destroyed by the London Blitz. Also we have to take it in consideration that Pamela Colman Smith died in debt condition so that her copyrights, if any, must have gone to her creditors.
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Now that there is access to HQ scans of the Pam-A cards, would we able to see a repro of the first release, with the orange pebble back, or with the rose&lily back, at this time?

From what I understand US Games doesn't hold claim on the original backs of the cards and has created new backs on its own decks to compensate. So I assume a perfect front and back recreation would be possible?
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