Sure...it seems cool to have a self-published deck come out that features celebrities--our favorite actors, singers, artists or musicians. Or even characters from a comic book series, novel, video game or movie.
Noticed I said self-published.
That's because traditional publishers aren't stupid enough to violate a famous person's Right of Publicity.
Yeah, in case you didn't know, Tarot decks featuring famous people--name or image, without their permission--is against the law. Click here to find out what the law says. For more information, Google "right of publicity" or "personality rights".
Now, most people realize you can't use TV shows, movies, songs or novels as a basis for a deck unless the creator/publisher secures permission OR it's in the public domain.
Yeppers, those people selling "fan art" at conventions?
They're profiting from the work and art originating with another person or creative entity.
So, this begs the question: how seriously do we, as Tarot enthusiasts, take the Justice card?
Oh, I can hear the rationalizations already:
It's not hurting anyone.
It's for personal use!
It's a great idea!
It's just for fun.
I'm using the deck for major internal work.
I read with this deck to help others!
The law doesn't care about your excuses reasons.
We think because someone is famous, they're rich--so it's OK to profit from their likeness. It's not hurting them. In fact, it gives them free publicity!
But that's just it: a person owns the "right of publicity" to his/her image and name. (Even dead people may be protected by their estate.)
Not you. Or your favorite indie deck "creator".
I can just see members of the Tarot community up in arms if a deck "creator" used illegal images from a self-published deck, original art or the body of a Tarot personality's work--without permission.
Oh...but it's apparently fine and dandy to create, buy, review or own such decks. Or even have the deck thief creator interviewed by Tarot's flavor-of-the-month YouTuber or blogger.
So what are your thoughts, Tarot collector, blogger, reader, reviewer and creator? Is creating decks based on a rock band, pop culture icons, TV/movie actors, artists (like Banksy)--without express permission--OK with you? If so, how do you justify it in light of the law?
What decks have you come across that are likely violating the "Rights of Publicity" law?
Personally, I'd like to see more air-time, blog space and money aimed at people who actually draw and paint 78 (or more) images to make up a Tarot deck--rather than those who are riding on the hard-earned celebrity of others.