golden tarot main
site info
major arcana cards
minor arcana - coins
minor arcana - cups
minor arcana - swords
minor arcana - wands
reading tarot
about the deck and the artworks
shop for golden tarot decks and products
about the author kat black
about the site
recommended links

Spot The Difference? - Part Two

Although Realis published only the Major Arcana from my deck which is not as heavily collaged as the Minor Arcana, it still consists of collaged images of my own creation.

As an example, here is my original v1.0 of The Tower and the source paintings from which it was collaged. As you can see, the base picture, Simone Martini's "The Miracle of the Resurrected Child" has been substantially rearranged, and an angel has been added from Giotto di Bondone's "Scenes from the Life of Christ: Lamentation".

Although my card consisted of source material from public domain artworks, the creativity involved in composing the image as it appears on my Tower card gives me copyright as an original work of art according to my lawyer (who specialises in Intellectual Property).

This particular image was used by Realis both in their Tarot Kalendar 2002 deck, and 27 times in the accompanying book, including on the cover.

Realis were approached through the German Copyright Collection Agency, Bildkunst and refused to pay me royalties. Bildkunst decided not to pursue the matter without entering into discussion with me about how the works were created and thus I wasn't given the opportunity to demonstrate my claim to copyright. They assumed that the pictures were public domain and that I had merely associated them with particular tarot cards.

The limit of the investigation by Viscopy (the Australian equivalent) and Bildkunst is shown by this email:

We have just received an email from a lawyer at Bildkunst, our affiliate in Germany, about the use of your tarot cards by the German publisher. The lawyer, Dr (snipped for privacy), has reviewed your material and the calendar/book produced by the German publisher. Unfortunately however, Dr (snipped for privacy) is of the view that your work would not be protected under German copyright law. She says, "the idea to connect a certain medieval motif with a certain value of a tarot card however does not fall under copyright protection in Germany; this connection remains in the field of 'unprotected ideas'".

Although her view is that you have no copyright claim, Dr (snipped for privacy) does think that you have a good case under the German law of unfair competition because the publisher has admitted that it downloaded the cards from an "English Internet site" (whether that's yours or not, I'm not sure). However, unfortunately they are not in a position to help you pursue this claim as it falls outside their jurisdiction. Therefore, if you wanted to take some action you would have to do so privately, with the help of a German lawyer. Bildkunst could put you in touch with someone if you would like.

I'm sorry that Bildkunst was not able to help you resolve this matter and that we can't do anything more about it for you.

Kind regards, (snipped for privacy) VISCOPY Limited, 7th May 2002

As Viscopy were unwilling to even bring up the issue of originality due to collage, I dropped them as my collection agents. I wasn't willing to give them 25% of my royalites in the deal with US Games when they put in so little effort to protect my rights in the situation with Realis.

I obviously can't afford to engage a German lawyer, so there is nothing more I can do. *sigh*

If you want to email Realis and tell them what you think of them, contact details are on the previous page.

Kat Black, August 2002

Simone Martini, Italian painter, Sienese school (b. 1280/85, Siena, d. 1344, Avignon); The Miracle of the Resurrected Child 1312-17 Fresco, 296 x 230 cm Cappella di San Martino, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi.

Giotto di Bondone, Italian painter, Florentine school (b. 1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze); Scenes from the Life of Christ: Lamentation, 1304-06 Fresco 200 x 185 cm Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua.


.+. main .+. readings .+. major arcana .+. minor arcana .+. links .+. about .+. contact .+.

copyright Kat Black and US Games Systems Inc 2000-2003