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Vacchetta & RWS copyright question

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Laura Borealis's Avatar
Laura Borealis  Laura Borealis is offline
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Join Date: 23 Feb 2004
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Vacchetta & RWS copyright question


I was looking at a site (here) that has scans of the Vacchetta cards as black and white outlines that one can print out and color. They also have RWS cards in black and white, for the same purpose.

They say "Note: Our cards have been modified from the originals. Please do not copy, except for personal use. Do not post uncolored tarot images online-please link to this article instead."

The RWS cards have titles added in a different font, but I don't think they have modified the Vacchetta cards. I compared several of them with ones on another site (here) and I don't see these supposed modifications. (ETA: Unless the changes made were again to the titles, and the second site has reposted the altreligion ones. Now that I think about it, those titles ARE in a digital script font. Which clashes with the deck, quite badly.)

Even with modified titles, the Vacchetta images are in public domain, I am certain. And the RWS are too as far as I can tell, though that's a weird and iffy subject seeing as how U.S. Games claims a copyright. So can the altreligion site people really tell people what they can and can't do with the card images -- images that were drawn by other people over 100 years ago?

Note I'm not planning to "steal" the images, I just thought it was a kind of odd demand. I read the copyright thread here on AE and it didn't really clarify it for me. The website people aren't saying they have copyright, but they seem to be referring to the idea that modifying the image establishes some sort of claim -- which as far as I can tell, is erroneous anyway.

ETA: I really don't mean to sound like I'm challenging them, I'm just seeking clarification on the issue.
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Le Fanu's Avatar
Le Fanu  Le Fanu is offline
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I wonder if it is because they have "modified" then (as they say) thus that means that in effect it is a slightly different deck? It becomes their deck, and what they are forbidding people to use is this new deck created by them, and not the original Vacchetta or the original RWS.
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Laura Borealis's Avatar
Laura Borealis  Laura Borealis is offline
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Laura Borealis 

I get the sense that is what they mean, yes. But does sticking a new title on a picture make it yours?

They neither drew it, nor printed it. They scanned it and in a graphics program erased the original title and added their own. Other than that, it's unchanged. Could I take any picture in public domain -- say this one -- add the words "High Priestess" to it and claim it's mine? Or could I take their scans, switch the titles for my own (in a more appropriate font! lol) and then do as I pleased with them? I wouldn't, because I personally feel that would be unethical, since I didn't go to the effort of scanning the originals. But it seems like that's what they're doing with Vacchetta and PCS's images -- taking something that isn't really theirs and "modifying" it to claim ownership.

I could get behind a statement like, "We're providing these scans as a service; we intend them for personal use only; please don't claim they're your own or try to make money off of them." Adding "We updated and modified the images" in order to justify it just confuses the issue, in my opinion.
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