Your Free Daily Tarot Reading Awaits... Try it right now!

Are Tarot Cards Copyrighted? An In-Depth Exploration

In the mystical world of tarot, where ancient symbols and archetypes dance on cards used for divination, guidance, and self-reflection, the question of copyright emerges as a modern consideration.

Are tarot decks copyrighted? This question is especially pertinent in an era where art and intellectual property intersect in complex ways.

This article delves into the nuances of copyright law as it applies to tarot decks, offering insights for creators, publishers, and enthusiasts alike.

Please note: Always do your own research and hire a professional if need be. Laws may change at any time.

Understanding Copyright Law

Copyright law protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The core purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation of art and culture by giving creators exclusive rights to their works for a specific period. After copyright expires, the work enters the public domain.

Copyright and Tarot Cards

Let’s cover two significant points when it comes to copyright and tarot cards.

Original Artwork and Text

  • Artwork: Most tarot decks are protected by copyright due to the original artwork on each card. This includes the images, designs, and any unique elements created by the artist.
  • Guidebooks: Many tarot decks come with guidebooks that explain the meaning of each card and provide instructions for readings. These texts are also copyrighted material.

Public Domain Considerations

  • Historical Decks: Some tarot decks, such as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck created in the early 20th century, have elements that have entered the public domain, meaning new creators can use these images without infringement. However, specific reproductions of these decks might still hold copyright based on the unique artistic presentation or new elements added by publishers.

Creating and Publishing Tarot Decks

Considering publishing your own tarot cards? Consider the following:

For Creators

  • Originality Is Key: When creating a tarot deck, ensure that the artwork and guidebook content are original creations. Drawing inspiration from traditional symbols and meanings is standard practice, but the artistic expression should be unique.
  • Copyright Registration: Creators can register the copyright of their tarot deck with the appropriate government body, offering legal protection against unauthorized reproduction and sale.

For Publishers

  • Licensing Agreements: Publishers interested in producing and distributing existing tarot decks must secure licensing agreements from the copyright holders, ensuring that royalties or permissions are appropriately managed.

For Enthusiasts and Users

  • Sharing and Reproduction: Sharing images of tarot cards online (e.g., in blog posts or social media) often falls under “fair use,” especially if it’s for commentary, criticism, or educational purposes. However, reproducing and selling the artwork without permission infringes on copyright laws.

Copyright Infringement and Tarot Decks

Reproducing, distributing, or selling a copyrighted tarot deck without permission is a violation of copyright law. This includes creating derivative works based on a copyrighted deck. Violations can lead to legal disputes, fines, and the requirement to cease all infringing activities.

Navigating Copyright in the Tarot Community

Respect and Awareness

  • The tarot community benefits from a culture of respect and awareness regarding copyright. Supporting original creators by purchasing authentic decks and respecting copyright laws enriches the community and encourages the creation of new and inspired decks.

Collaborations and Permissions

  • Collaborations between artists, authors, and publishers can lead to the creation of innovative tarot decks. Obtaining permissions and negotiating agreements are crucial steps in these partnerships.


Are tarot decks copyrighted? Yes, in most cases, to protect the original artwork and guidebook content created by artists and authors.

This legal framework ensures that creators are compensated for their work and can control how it’s used.

For the tarot community, understanding and respecting copyright laws mean supporting the vibrant ecosystem of creativity that tarot decks represent, fostering an environment where new interpretations and visions can continue to flourish.

Whether you’re a creator, publisher, or enthusiast, navigating copyright with respect and integrity ensures that the magical world of tarot remains accessible and enriching for all.