Consumer Rights/Intellectual property rights
I am wanting to print out scans of cards of an old trading card game that are no longer being produced or sold. The company that made them has stopped making and selling these cards and this game completely, and the images of the cards are publicly available online (Wikipedia and other places). Is it acceptable for me to print these out or use these to make cards for personal use, or are the images still protected under a copyright/owned by the original makers? Thanks.
Please keep in mind I am not a lawyer,but I do have experience with copyrights, trade marks, service marks and patents from personal experience.
The copyright is held by the artist of the images unless they assigned those rights to someone else.
The copyright law is generally enforced if the image or writings show up being mass produced for a profit. If you can download at no charge from Wikipedia the images, I see no reason you could not use them for personal use.
From my own experience, I attempted to enforce copyright law on a business that was stealing my work product. Ity could be proven and I had an excellent case the attorney told me. The only problem: he wanted a ten thousand dollar retainer and his rates were $500.00 per hour. The cost of litigation was simply not worth pursuing.
Now, there are instances I will litigate.
On the bottom of my website I have it copyright Rob Painter, all rights reserved. Any reprint of images or information without written authorization will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
You might say for a website? You bet!
The reason is that I serve as an expert witness. Opposing attorneys have no problem violating the law, will print the complete website (size of a NYC phone book) and attempt to interrogate me on the information. Yes, I would use them in a heartbeat!
In your case however, for your personal use, who is going to know?
Sometimes, the author or artist will request royalties up front and commonly, they are not significant.
I subscribe to a place that supplies images. I am told what I am allowed to do with those images as well as what I can't. I pay $25 per image.
If you can get them off the web, chances are they can be used for personal use. Otherwise, there will be some sort of security that will stop you. For personal use, I wouldn't hold my breath for the cops beating down your door.
There is also information at uspto.gov that will tell you about "free use."
Good luck and thanks for the question.