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There are quite a few twists and turns in EU copyright law, but most times it works out to be a retroactive change to 70 years after the death of the author/contributor that was last to die, even for older works and even if it went into the public domain at some point.

The US generally recognizes the EU copyright, but not for works with original publication prior to 1923. Most of the rest of the world recognizes the EU copyright.

US Games has sued various entities and won, mostly in the 1970s. None of those cases were recent enough to refer to/clarify the reasoning they are currently depending on for their copyright claim.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosbloom View Post
Nice work trzes. From what I understand, US Games has also trademarked the title Rider-Waite as an added protection. That implies to me that they're trying to find ways to protect their IP beyond copyright expiration. That can be both a good practice and a bad practice.
"Rider" only refers to the original English publisher (well, leaving Waddingtons out of it...) - nothing more.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
"Rider" only refers to the original English publisher (well, leaving Waddingtons out of it...) - nothing more.
Yes but that didn't stop them from trade-marking the actual phrase "Rider-Waite". So you can't sell anything described as "Rider-Waite" at least in the US unless you strike a deal with US Games.

PS. Actually, they have trade-marked "Rider-Waite" as I said above, and "Smith-Waite" and "Rider" on its own.

And surprisingly, there have been five companies in the US who held a trademark on the word "Tarot" with the last one still holding it. Sickening. 1 2 3 4 5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
US Games has sued various entities and won, mostly in the 1970s. None of those cases were recent enough to refer to/clarify the reasoning they are currently depending on for their copyright claim.
US Games owned a US copyright for the RWS that probably lasted until the mid 80's (see again the Sacred Sites). For the current situation it would be interesting to see if they won any court cases past that time in the US, that means for the orignial cards and images, not for the US Games alterations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosbloom View Post
Nice work trzes. From what I understand, US Games has also trademarked the title Rider-Waite as an added protection. That implies to me that they're trying to find ways to protect their IP beyond copyright expiration. That can be both a good practice and a bad practice.
In the RWS case I find their practice rather dodgy. They used whatever might work somehow to justify their own copyright, only to cover the fact that the copyright for the actual thing, the tarot deck itself, would expire soon. They removed the nice handwritten titles by Pam and replaced them with their own typeface, only to claim their own copyright for it. The box has it's own copyright, and even the title "Rider Waite Tarot" has been trademarked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
"Rider" only refers to the original English publisher (well, leaving Waddingtons out of it...) - nothing more.
True indeed. And it makes it even more dodgy to claim a trademark for the name of an already existing publisher. Or did US Games maybe own Rider or at least the name at the time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosbloom View Post
Then again, I wonder if pressure to acquire a license from them can be anything more tangible than a psychological effect? An average person getting letters from companies and lawyers of barely comprehensible legalese threatening all sorts of legal action would be scared into submission. But if you ignore those threats, you force the company to either go to court or ignore you. If the work is really in the public domain then it's not in their interests to actually go to court since they are selling licenses so if the work has been in the public domain for a number of years they might face all sorts of action from licensees for doing that.

I guess a lawyer in the US or UK who wants to make a name for themselves could take on a case and break a monopoly with little personal expense and big fame gain. Just saying.
Both sides have a sort of asymmetrical risk here, it seems. If US Games goes to court and looses they can forget the next (and final) seven years of good profit with RWS products. If they win they only get a few more license fees. If on the other hand we (the poor tarot enthusiasts) go to court and loose, then we are in trouble because of the costs of the court case. If we win we can publish or own RWS and will probably fail to make profit anyway.

But they are big and we are small, so they can scare us with letters full of law-alike blurb, while we can hardly scare them. Anyway, no matter how much I complain, I wouldn't take the risk of a court case in Europe myself because of my lack of reliable information to predict the outcome with certainty. As for the US I simply don't know what trouble a court case would imply even if the case is crystal clear. The best chances for us would be to rely on the prediction that US Games wouldn't go to court, neither in the US nor in Europe. But how sure can we be?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosbloom View Post
Yes but that didn't stop them from trade-marking the actual phrase "Rider-Waite". So you can't sell anything described as "Rider-Waite" at least in the US unless you strike a deal with US Games.

PS. Actually, they have trade-marked "Rider-Waite" as I said above, and "Smith-Waite" and "Rider" on its own.
They did COIN the phrase Rider-Waite. But I don't see how they can have copyrighted "Rider", given that the publisher still exists - as a part of Penguin/Random House.

Your links are to expired searches, by the way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trzes View Post
But they are big and we are small, so they can scare us with letters full of law-alike blurb, while we can hardly scare them. Anyway, no matter how much I complain, I wouldn't take the risk of a court case in Europe myself because of my lack of reliable information to predict the outcome with certainty. As for the US I simply don't know what trouble a court case would imply even if the case is crystal clear. The best chances for us would be to rely on the prediction that US Games wouldn't go to court, neither in the US nor in Europe. But how sure can we be?
I believe they did go up against Lo Scarabeo and win, but I'm not 100% certain that they didn't just settle out of court - even so Lo Scarabeo is hardly little.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosbloom View Post
Yes but that didn't stop them from trade-marking the actual phrase "Rider-Waite". So you can't sell anything described as "Rider-Waite" at least in the US unless you strike a deal with US Games.

PS. Actually, they have trade-marked "Rider-Waite" as I said above, and "Smith-Waite" and "Rider" on its own.

And surprisingly, there have been five companies in the US who held a trademark on the word "Tarot" with the last one still holding it. Sickening. 1 2 3 4 5
Oops, I cross-posted (well, failed to notice your post in the preview )

It' isane indeed. The craziest example I have heard of is a whisky trader in Berlin. His brand was called Jack&Jack after himself and his dog, both called Jack. Jack Wolfskin seriously tried to sue him for violation of their brand name .
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KFC sued a pub in the UK over their Family Feast Christmas Dinner - KFC sells some noxious bucket by that name.

They did come to an accommodation - but still....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
They did COIN the phrase Rider-Waite. But I don't see how they can have copyrighted "Rider", given that the publisher still exists - as a part of Penguin/Random House.
Ah, that's interesting.

Random House is big. Maybe someone should give them a hint that one of their brand namse is being abused over in he US. (Well, they probably know anyway, or they even get some fees for their name being used.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
I believe they did go up against Lo Scarabeo and win, but I'm not 100% certain that they didn't just settle out of court - even so Lo Scarabeo is hardly little.
If that was before 2013 then US Games would have been right as Lo Scarabeo is European and therefore UK copyright had been relevant.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trzes View Post
In the RWS case I find their practice rather dodgy. They used whatever might work somehow to justify their own copyright, only to cover the fact that the copyright for the actual thing, the tarot deck itself, would expire soon. They removed the nice handwritten titles by Pam and replaced them with their own typeface, only to claim their own copyright for it. The box has it's own copyright, and even the title "Rider Waite Tarot" has been trademarked.



True indeed. And it makes it even more dodgy to claim a trademark for the name of an already existing publisher. Or did US Games maybe own Rider or at least the name at the time?

Both sides have a sort of asymmetrical risk here, it seems. If US Games goes to court and looses they can forget the next (and final) seven years of good profit with RWS products. If they win they only get a few more license fees. If on the other hand we (the poor tarot enthusiasts) go to court and loose, then we are in trouble because of the costs of the court case. If we win we can publish or own RWS and will probably fail to make profit anyway.

But they are big and we are small, so they can scare us with letters full of law-alike blurb, while we can hardly scare them. Anyway, no matter how much I complain, I wouldn't take the risk of a court case in Europe myself because of my lack of reliable information to predict the outcome with certainty. As for the US I simply don't know what trouble a court case would imply even if the case is crystal clear. The best chances for us would be to rely on the prediction that US Games wouldn't go to court, neither in the US nor in Europe. But how sure can we be?
Their practice is definitely dodgy. I can understand the need to protect IP with trademarks and whatnot, I'm not against a reasonable amount of time of protection, I use copyrights myself to protect my own IP. But seeing a company using what might very well be a loophole to maintain indefinite copyright which wasn't even originally produced by them is really distasteful.

As for chances of winning in court, well, I was never thinking of going commercial. I just wanted to see if I could find some hi-res images of the monochrome images from the Pictorial Key to use in a strictly private, non-commercial, non-public project of mine. This short of IP use should be none of the IPR holder's business. But the whole restrictive copyright thing on a century old work is pretty damn irritating, at the very least in principle.

I wonder about derivatives though. They're able to copyright them separately. Couldn't we create derivatives of the Pam-A or monochrome Pictorial series and copyright those instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory View Post
They did COIN the phrase Rider-Waite. But I don't see how they can have copyrighted "Rider", given that the publisher still exists - as a part of Penguin/Random House.

Your links are to expired searches, by the way.


I believe they did go up against Lo Scarabeo and win, but I'm not 100% certain that they didn't just settle out of court - even so Lo Scarabeo is hardly little.
Crap, you're right about the links. I'll try to fix them later. What bothers me even more about this particular trademark practice is that it consists of people's names. I could coin the commercial title "Gregory's Cat Tarot" for example but I'd fully expect (or hope) that you'd be able to sue me to oblivion for using your name to sell my product. I don't see why death would entitle someone to have exclusive rights to a dead person's name. Shouldn't the relatives have something to say? Or anyone named Waite, Rider or Smith for that matter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by trzes View Post
Oops, I cross-posted (well, failed to notice your post in the preview )

It' isane indeed. The craziest example I have heard of is a whisky trader in Berlin. His brand was called Jack&Jack after himself and his dog, both called Jack. Jack Wolfskin seriously tried to sue him for violation of their brand name .
To think that Jack Daniels didn't mind but Jack Wolfskin who makes clothes did.
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I'm getting a slight urge to start a crowd-funding site to help individuals and small-businesses cover legal costs against fraudulent suits and legal harassment.
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