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Still tracking copyright for Rider Waite Tarot Cards

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:39 pm
by Helenoran462
Dear Andy-

I am still going around in circles with trying to optain permission to use the images of the Rider Waite deck as illustrations in my novel... it's become quite the challenge! :?

I did contact Mr. Semken as you advised me to do , and I received a very kind reply back from him. To surmise his email, he advised me to contact Random House since they are the agents for his father's estate; he said he was sorry but he didn't know exactly which department to get in touch with.
I did have a look at their website and rang one of their numbers in London, but the person I spoke to didn't have any idea who I should contact or what I should do next. Not long afterwards this pandemic business started and so the legalities have all taken a back seat for the time being. For now I'm just going through and editing my book, but I do keep doing searches online for any more information. I'll have another go contacting Random House next week. In some ways I'd just like to throw up my hands and say 'publish and be damned!' but I think any publisher might take a dim view of that. Even self-publishers would probably be wary of being held liable for infringing copyright, especially with US Games involved.

I do wonder if a self-publisher might still be willing to print a dozen or so copies for me, provided I promised not to sell them? I have family members who are getting on in years, and I'd really like to be able to give them a copy... I don't want to hang about waiting until 2022 when these illustrations enter the public domain and leave it too late.

Anyway, that's where things stand at the moment- I'm still plugging away tidying the book up, sorting out my illustrations and double-checking punctuation. Even once all that is done, I still need to get it in the correct format for publication, so plenty to keep me busy. Mr. Semken said probate was due to be sorted soon on the estate, so maybe I'll have more luck with Random House the second time around!

Re: Still tracking copyright for Rider Waite Tarot Cards

Posted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:30 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Helen,

Glad to hear you are still chipping away at this. It's a shame Mr Semken wasn't able to give you the necessary permission. As for Random House, you could try going in via this page on their website as that should put you in touch with the staff who handle rights and licensing. You will need to scroll down to the UK section. The bad news is this pair of sentences which appear in the FAQ section:
Please allow up to 10 weeks to receive a response. It may take us longer to respond during busy periods.

Re: Still tracking copyright for Rider Waite Tarot Cards

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:41 pm
by Helenoran462
Hello, Andy- I thought I'd give you a brief update...

I had a little bit of too-ing and fro-ing with Random House- despite me sending them detailed emails explaining exactly what I was asking and explaining why I couldn't use their online request form, I received several auto-generated emails telling me to fill in the form (since an original copy of the Pictorial Key to the Tarot is difficult to find, I could not supply them with the page numbers of the images I was interested in nor the isbn; and it's not one of their listed publications anyway.)

I finally got an actual person to reply to my emails on July 14th, and she provided me with a different form to fill in... then on the twenty-third of July I was told it had been forwarded to their archives team, so that's where things still stand at the moment! :?

Re: Still tracking copyright for Rider Waite Tarot Cards

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:52 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Helen,

Thanks for the update. At this rate, the copyright will have expired before you actually find someone at Random House who can agree to your request! Well done for sticking at it. Funnily enough I saw a feature on the Guardian website the other day which gave examples of the many interpretations of tarot cards. Most of them had the requisite copyright acknowledgement, but when it came to the Coleman Smith version of The Sun, there was no copyright information given.

Andy