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The Boiardo 15th c Poem
Tarot history in brief

quotations from various people

Functions of Readings
What is Tarot?


Med. on XVIIII

Emily E. Auger

Tarot and Other Meditation Decks

L. Atkinson

Orphalese Software review

S. Arwen

Memory & Instinct

Kathy Berkowitz

Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 1)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 2)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 3)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 4)

Nina L. Braden

Tarot in Literature

David Brice

Birth of Tarot

Colin Browne

Square & Compasses Tarot

Lee A. Bursten

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Vachetta review


Review: The Lo Scarabeo Story

Ross G. Caldwell

Tarot History

Bonnie Cehovet

Tarology - Poetics of Tarot
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The Mystereum Tarot

N. Chishty-Mujahid

Concerning Ghisi’s Laberinto

Craig Conley

A House of Tarot Cards

A.B. Crowther

Rachel Pollack interview

Jean-Michel David

On Paneurythmy and Tarot
Tarot's expression of the numinous
Yarker, Tarot & Arcane Schools
Waite-Smith Sun card
The Fool as Wandering Jew
Tarot as Christian Art
Education through Tarot
Tarot: the vatical & the sacral
Fortuna, Ass & Monkey
Steiner and Tarot
1701 Dodal restored!
Enc. Tarot vol I-IV: review
Christ, World & Sin
Caveat Emptor:
       Visual Tarot

Tarot & AlefBeit
Review: Jean Payen Tarot
Tarot and Freemasonry
I-Ching and Pip Cards
Whither directing your course?
Tarot & the Tree of Life
Ovid, Egypt and Tarot
When the Devil isn't the Devil
Four elements and the suits
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Jean Dodal Marseille
Conference FAQs
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Annual spread
Iraqi Museum
Two Brief TdM reviews
Meditations on the Tarot

Enrique Enriquez

The Joy of Wordplay
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Embodied Tarot
Indirect Suggestions
Whispering to the Eye

Mark Filipas

History of Egyptian Decks
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Jean-Claude Flornoy

in memorium
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Roxanne Flornoy

Children and Tarot
from Oral Tradition

Mary Greer

Killing the Thoth Deck
On the Tarot of the Four Worlds
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William Haigwood

The Sixties: Counterculture Tarot

Alissa Hall

Parlour Tricks

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The Tarot

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Crowley-Harris 'Thoth' deck

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Century with the Waite-Smith

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A Poetry of Tarot

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Tarot of Prague review

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Joep van Loon

Tarot Wheel

Karen Mahony


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Fool, Alef & Orion

Robert Mealing

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Magic Manga Tarot
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Robert M. Place

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Debra Rosenthal

Looking at the Jacques Vieville

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Counseling Reading for Spouses
Learning the language of images
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Diana Sobolewska

'Bateleur's tale'

Russell Sturgess

Jesus's New Testament

N. Swift

Sufism & Tarot

Arthur E. Waite

Symbols of Tarot

Visual Tarot Program – Caveat emptor

Spam or Scam – or a review of ‘visual tarot’ activities

by Jean-Michel David

Some time back, I was alerted by other Tarotpedia users that a new contributor to our wiki-based Online Encyclopedia of Tarot was replacing entries – and at times a whole page – with simple links to the ‘Visual Tarot’ programme site. Such can be rather annoying, but we took the event with generosity and assumed that it was no more than an error or unfamiliarity with wiki-based entries when a page’s entry was being replaced, and that all the other pages with links to their programme were but misguided but honest enough ‘advertising’ (though contrary to the intent of Tarotpedia).

Such is the lot of having editable web-based pages that encourages community participation. What is hoped is that intentional damage remains rare and that once the IP of the user and the username is blocked (after requests not to post what is basically spam), he or she simply moves on.

Unfortunately, things are not always so simple…


Image usage abuse by Visual Tarot

What was brought to the attention of a number of tarot folks was the intentional inclusion of various creators’ tarot decks. We probably have to recall here that to create a deck is no small feat, and that the artist(s) usually make, at most, a very small income disproportionate to the artistic endeavour. Despite this, most – actually, all the ones I have met or know about – are also quite generous with their creations, allowing the card images to be used subject to some pretty normal considerations. In some cases, the legal right rests with a larger publisher who is also, in many cases, quite ready to grant permission for reproduction subject to reasonable constraints.


The folks at Visual Tarot Programme seem to not only care little for such, but have either dis-regarded requests to remove electronic copies of card images from the site, or, in other cases, simply moved them to a peripheral site for download therefrom. Decks such as Ma Deva Padma’s Osho Zen, Kat Black’s Touchstone Tarot, and Karen and Alex’s Tarot of Prague can each, despite either explicit request to remove such of, in the case of the Osho Zen, the copyright holders not knowing of its usage, be downloaded.


But does it breach copyright?

The question is actually far more ‘thorny’ and unclear as what may at first be assumed straightforward – depending on one’s location in the world. It seems that – from what I have been told – the copyright laws in the country of the programmer’s origin are perhaps not ‘actually’ breached… even when those folks decide to make available, by simply electronically copying from existing online copies, as long as there is a nominal amount of ‘editing’ (which may consist of no more than adjusting the size or resolution at which images are displayed). Having said that, the Russian Federation is signatory to International Copyright treatises, and changes may be afoot to rectify the current situation.

For the user, on the other hand, using and downloading those same images in most cases would breach copyright laws. In other words, Visual Tarot makes available images that it may legally be allowed to display without the warning that no likely user (targetted at the English-speaking world) is likely to be able to legally use these. A case of deception by deliberate oversight at the very least.


Pricing of Visual Tarot Software

visual tarot program scam

It seems that the price of Visual Tarot may fluctuate according to the whims of the programmer or his resellers. Prices I have seen range from $7.77 to $250. That’s, by the way, US dollars. In one caseof which I was made aware, their site changed from $35 to $250 overnight… and then dropped back to $55 a couple of days later following some comments on a thread on Aeclectic Tarot!

This was the first instance which raised my concern… Could this be, rather than simply poor observance of ambiguous copyright laws an instance of a deliberate scam?


Scam or Spam?

Given the above concern, and the publically available correspondence between the creators of various decks and the programmer – and also being fed up with having to repeatedly undo what I can only describe as spamming Tarotpedia – I checked their site again.

One of the payment options (for the few that are unlikely to use something other than PayPal) is by making a Bank deposit at the London branch of the German Dresdner Bank, the beneficiary being a Cologne-based company located at Vogelsanger Str. 78 in that city: Digital River GmbH. From other searches, the company appears to be heavily involved in providing ‘services’ for online gambling and other software ‘promotions’… with what possibly appears to be more nefarious eastern European links.

A quick search of complaints regarding that company returned a number of instructive results, including from RipOff Report, Complaints Board, and e.Bay.

Could it be that, in addition to directly charging for a developed programme, there is also therein Phishing for Credit Card and/or PayPal information? Can the Visual Tarot programme be trusted? Does it possibly contain a command sequence therein that collects and returns to its creator or to Digital River banking, credit card or PayPal information that should remain confidential?

None of their activity, whether it be their ongoing disruption of Tarotpedia, their connection with Digital River, or their ongoing breach after creator requests to remove usage of their decks, leaves much confidence in the honesty of either Aleksey Lapshin (the credited programmer and owner of Visual Tarot) or his connections.



Damage to Tarotpedia using various IPs (or masking their IP by various all-too-common techniques used by spammers) continues. As I write this, three repeated major alterations to pages in the past two days have had to be undone.

As a consequence, we may have to temporarily lock alterations until installing additional add-ons to minimise damage. I personally hope it does not get to that.


Visual Tarot Program – Spam of Scam? – Caveat emptor

Visual Tarot is not the design of someone who seeks to support or be supported by the tarot community, nor of someone that appears to have a genuine interest in providing and supporting software written for those interested in tarot. Rather, it unfortunately displays the hallmarks of untrustworthiness at the very least.

If the entries on Tarotpedia was simply unwelcome spam that stopped following requests to do so, it may be considered as no more. Given some of the above, and given the discussion in the thread ‘Is This Legal’ on AT, I am drawn to the conclusion, perhaps inaccurate, that there is far more to it – and I personally remain wary lest it be a genuine scam specifically targetting the tarot community.

3 comments to

Visual Tarot Program – Caveat emptor

  • The use and supply of images by this program IS illegal, both in Russia (where the perpetrator Lapshkin lives) and in Canada (where the server for the program currently is). The perpetrator claims urban-myth of ‘use of 10% is OK’ but that’s absolute rubbish, as Russia and Canada both apply reciprocal copyright laws – ie, my deck is registered at the US Library of Congress, and use such as Lapshkin’s is clearly in breach of that.

  • Dave

    Thanks for this useful information. I would like to mention that this Visual Tarot business has also been a problem for Wikipedia! They persist in spamming this product in the External Links of the tarot articles.

  • Robert

    Thanks for this Jean-Michel. Visual Tarot is indeed a scam. Visual Tarot has spammed tarotpedia repeatedly, on all of our main pages, to the point where we have to check it every day to see if he has been by to spam more Visual Tarot links. Visual Tarot is a thief, and a hacker, may his karma come quickly to him.

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