In case you are curious as to how and why I came to make these cards, and the truth of the complications that followed, here is my story. Links to original quotes and copy of my license are below.
Late in 2012, too late, I heard of the Original Lenormand deck, a reproduction of a very old deck of cards owned by the British Museum, that had recently been published, and sold out, in a stated "exclusive limited edition." I went to the Gamecrafter site, where I heard the deck had been sold, and found the decks were no longer available. I looked on eBay. I looked elsewhere online. I could find nothing about them. So in December I decided to contact the British Museum to see whether I could get a high resolution copy of the photo of the cards that I saw posted on their website so I could make a deck for myself. I was sent a not-very-high resolution image. I kept looking online, unsuccessfully, for a copy of the deck.
I have a friend who shares my appreciation for traditional Lenormand cards and she'd also wanted a copy of the British Museum's cards but couldn't find one, either. She encouraged me to make my own and that maybe I could sell them since they had been made as a limited edition and were obviously, to our knowledge, out of print. Surely there must be other people who would also like the deck that had already gone out of print. So, in April 2013, I found what it would cost to get a license to be able to make and sell the decks. The British Museum accepted my payment for the license on April 18, 2013. Confident in my legal right to make and sell a few decks, I set about my work, made a few decks and started up a website.
The day after I set up my website, on May 9, 2013, Marcus Katz, whose name I did not already know but dimly remembered hearing, sent me an email. I searched and found out that he is an author, the owner of Tarot Professionals, has lofty stature in the tarot community and is a bestower of tarot reading credentials. I did not respond.
"From: Marcus Katz (email@example.com)
We produce under license the Game of Hope "Original Lenormand" and believe that your images are those as altered by Ciro Marchetti on our behalf. Can you kindly confirm your license agreement with the British Museum and the source of your amended images?
The same morning I received an email from the British Museum, from a different individual than the one with whom I had been dealing when I secured the license to produce the cards, asking me to contact them. That same day Mr Katz posted to his Facebook page :
We've just spent the morning dealing with an issue. We saw on another forum that someone was advertising the "Original Lenormand" for sale. We checked and were astonished to see the deck for sale in a variety of editions. We checked by telephone with the British Museum and they have just confirmed that the person involved was only given permission to use the original photograph for "personal use only". This is a standard permission given by the museum, and I believe is free.
Furthermore, it appears that the person is reproducing bordered and edited versions of the originals (which are rough cut and bent) that appear to be identical to Ciro Marchetti's work for our deck. Both ourselves and the British Museum have contacted the person to clarify the situation.
We have just paid to extend our commercial license for the deck to another 250 copies, which is available at http://www.originallenormand.com/.
Followed by a similar post on Aeclectic Forum by Tali Goodwin:
As most here know, we have had a license from the British Museum following our payment for the original photography, to reproduce this deck. We have recently extended that license to another 250 copies. We also had Ciro Marchetti work extensively on the images to align them into bordered versions. Your images appear - and we would obviously like to check this - to be those as produced by ourselves from Ciro's work.
Can you kindly send us a copy or put us in contact with the digital artist who modified your version of the British Museum originals, so we can check the status of your reproduction?
We are also talking with the sales team at the British Museum to clarify the license status.
ETA: The British Museum have informed us that the person involved in selling this deck is only licensed for "personal use" only and in the US, not for global commercial sales.
Please contact me via PM here in the first instance.
Marketing Director, Tarot Professionals Ltd
My response to this Tali Goodwin's charges -- I did not respond to Mr Katz's email -- was:
I don't expect a public apology for your and Mr. Katz's slanderous accusations based on erroneous or incomplete information from the British Museum that he distorted. I do, however, think that the people who saw those accusations and formed an opinion of me and my work based on those accusations deserve to know the facts. I cannot let your and his words go unchallenged.The bottom of each email from the British Museum contains this verbiage and thus I am unable to post the contents without written consent:
Therefore, I will not take this to a private message and plan post copies of all the pertinent, factual information to back pages of my website www.gameofhopelenormand.com so that any late comers will not have to rely on conjecture and innuendo. His words, your words, my words and those of the British Museum.
First, congratulations on extending your license to use the image from the British Museum for further production of your cards. However, Marcus Katz and the Tarot Professionals erroneously concluded that they had exclusive rights to the image provided to them by the British Museum. They do not. I will post a copy of what the British Museum sent to me, addressing this issue, on my website in the context in which it was received.
Mr. Katz suggested in an email to me that I should provide him with a copy of my license from the British Museum. My business is with the British Museum and I have no obligation to prove anything to Mr. Katz. If the British Museum feels the need to furnish him with proof, that is up to the British Museum.
Second. He suggested in the email and in a very public post on Facebook, and as you echo here, that I copied the work of Ciro Marchetti.
Until my retirement I was a well-paid corporate graphic artist and videographer. I worked with digital imaging from 1989 until my retirement, beginning with Adobe Photoshop 1.0. As any digital artist can confirm, it is not difficult to manipulate digital images with any number of digital image editors currently on the market today. I am a skilled digital artist and have no need to use Mr. Marchetti's work, and think I did a superior job to the work he did for you. My opinion is obviously subjective. My work speaks for itself.
I have a license to use the image provided to me by the British Museum and to produce decks from that image. I paid for the rights to sell them. And I have copied no one's work."
The information in this e-mail and any attachment is confidential andIt was not until May 17 that I received the hard copy of my "Invoice/Licence Confirmation" which is not bound by the language contained in their email messages. I have since been seeking help to adjust my website to post this, thus the delay. All of my correspondence with the British Museum, the acknowledgement of their receipt of my payment to them and the high resolution image was contained within the email messages from them.
is intended solely for the named addressee(s). It may be legally
privileged. Any unauthorised dissemination or copying of this e-mail
and any use or disclosure of any attachments contained in it, is
strictly prohibited and may be illegal. Any views expressed by an
individual within this e-mail do not necessarily reflect the views of
The British Museum Company Limited.
A limited company registered in England # 1079888. An exempt charity.
Registered Office – 38 Russell Square, London WC1B 3QQ
VAT Registration # GB 710 521 585
When I was in correspondence with the original person at the British Museum from whom I secured the license, I was not informed of any geographical restriction on distribution of the decks.
I responded to the British Museum's email regarding my license on the day I received Mr Katz's email. Their comment to my alarmed response was, "I’m sorry of [sic] my email sounded more dramatic than it really is." It went on to inform me that in order to be able to sell the decks outside the U.S. I would need to simply pay more money. And so I am awaiting that addition to my license.
The fact that this representative of the British Museum discussed my transaction with Mr Katz was a gross breach of professional etiquette and ethics. They could easily have listened to him, acknowledged his alarm and come directly back to me with their request for additional payment. But the damage is already done, my reputation tarnished.
I do not know Mr Katz. I had no knowledge of what his dealings were with the British Museum; the British Museum did not discuss them with me. I didn't ask. I have no knowledge of what his business with the British Museum is now. I have no influence on the British Museum's policies.
Mr Katz's "facts" were wrong. They were gross misstatements at best, barefaced lies at worst. (And in his follow-up post to his Facebook page, where he says he received more information in dialog with the British Museum, his "facts" continue to be wrong.)
I do not know what was told to Mr Katz. However, an email response to the Facebook post I copied and sent in my first reply to the British Museum's representative contradicted his version of the conversation they had. I don't know who to believe. I am, however, the target of his personal vendetta and will leave my readers to surmise whatever motivations he may have.
His "facts" were believed by his followers. There was "blood in the water." Many of the feeding frenzy of ensuing, brutal comments to Katz's hollow words were signed by people whose names I recognized from the Lenormand community and whose words and work I had respected. Then there were the countless numbers of people who "liked" each post. I am told that comments posted on private forums, un-viewable by non-members, were even worse.
Ms Goodwin states in her first ATF post:
As most here know, we have had a license from the British Museum following our payment for the original photography, to reproduce this deck.Here are a couple of rhetorical questions: Do we truly know that they have a license, after her and Mr Katz's repeated statements that the above photo of my license from the British proves wrong? Has anyone ever demanded proof of their right to publish decks?
She goes on to says, as Mr Katz also quoted above:
We have recently extended that license to another 250 copies.I question the truth of this statement because in closely questioning my contact at the British Museum, it was stated unequivocally that the British Museum has only one retail sale license option for this particular endeavor with this image for reproduction in card decks. It is for 1000 copies, for one year. No fewer. Ergo, he has possessed a licence to make 1000 copies for as long as he claims to have owned the license.
Mr Katz has not apologized, nor as I said above, do I expect him to. He has only continued to write excuses and justifications for his attack on me that have been echoed by another poster to the Aeclectic thread who will here remain unnamed.
I want to thank all those people who have watched this affair evolve who have offered their supportive words and thoughts. To them I will be eternally grateful. Sincerely, thank you all.
As a result of this seamy affair I have new appreciation for the anguish and depths of despair that falsely accused and imprisoned people must feel. I have had a mere taste. The Universe certainly has a twisted sense of humor. Fortunately I wasn't accused of worse.
All this madness because I simply wanted a deck of cards.
Link to the Aeclectic Forum thread: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=195883
Link to Katz's Facebook post, however you must be a Facebook member to view: https://www.facebook.com/groups/298383766946724/permalink/374984059286694/?comment_id=378738602244573&offset=0&total_comments=37