PDA

View Full Version : Am I Covering Myself With this Decision about my Cover?



NateSean
08-06-2015, 01:34 AM
Let me get this part out of the way. I can't afford to hire a cover designer.
An artist who is very close to me offered to let me use some of his artwork in the cover free of charge, which is definitely better than nothing. However, I came to a disagreement with him recently over two images.

One of the images is definitely done by him. He has other prints of this image and he has told me he would prefer I use one of those than the image I found as he decided it was not good enough to put out there. Okay, it's his work and I realize that by attaching it to my project, he is drawing exposure to himself and he wants to put the best foot forward as do I.

However, he then showed me a silhouette that was done by an unknown artist from the 19th century. All he knows is that the artist was unknown at the time of purchase and he thought it would make an acceptable book cover as well.

My problem is that I know who did the image that he made, because it's definitely him. I have access to him if the question of ownership ever comes up. I don't know who did this silhouette. I don't care if the artist is dead, every single artist I have ever seen in a book cover has been credited on the copyright page. What if this person has descendants who see the cover and try to sue me for using their ancestor's work without permission? What if the website I'm publishing through decides to pull my book because I can't provide adequate proof that I have the right to use this picture?

Unfortunately I couldn't convince the artist that my decision was a sound reason. It only means I have to wait until he uncovers the other prints of his own artwork that I already chose, but I just won't budge and use the unknown artist's work.

Am I being unreasonable about this?

Abderian
08-06-2015, 03:18 AM
I'm pretty sure whoever publishes your book won't require proof you have the right to use the picture. If the image is from the 19th century the copyright would be expired, so if you trust your artist is accurate about that information then I would say you can safely use the image.
I believe there's a way to search for images on the web. If you do that that may reassure you. Or do some research into image copyright law. But personally I wouldn't have your concerns.

Polenth
08-06-2015, 03:21 AM
Older work becomes public domain, so being sued by remaining family isn't an issue. What is an issue is that a piece with unknown history might turn out to be more recent than was thought, and might still be in copyright. Also, you might be asked to demonstrate that it's in the public domain, which is hard when you're not sure of its history.

You're not being unreasonable. I wouldn't use an image if I wasn't sure of its origins.

RedWombat
08-06-2015, 04:02 AM
I am very confused what you mean about "uncovers the other prints" of this friend of yours' work. That's not terminology I'm familiar with. He does physical prints of his work...and you're waiting for one of those? Because it will be different than the one you've already got?

Is this like a physical woodblock or linoblock print or something, and you're actually waiting for him to physically pull the prints? Because otherwise, what do his prints have to do with your cover?

NateSean
08-06-2015, 08:05 PM
Older work becomes public domain,

Actually, that only reinforces my decision because the website I'm working with makes it clear that it's not acceptable to use public domain materials. I suppose there's a chance that they're not referring to imagery, but I would just rather err on the side of caution.


I am very confused what you mean about "uncovers the other prints" of this friend of yours' work. That's not terminology I'm familiar with.

Um, the prints that he would like me to use are currently "covered" as in not readily visible at the time and he is going to "uncover" them as in when he finds them they will not be covered any longer.



He does physical prints of his work...and you're waiting for one of those? Because it will be different than the one you've already got?

I don't have anything. I have a version of the print that he does not want me to use and he would prefer to use one of the other prints of this same work, so without his permission, I can't use anything.



Because otherwise, what do his prints have to do with your cover?

Um... he is giving me permission to use the prints on my cover. I'm not sure what's confusing about that.

kenpochick
08-06-2015, 08:45 PM
I'm not an artist, but I don't understand this "uncover" thing either. And what's confusing about prints is that prints are irrelevant to your cover which will be a digital file.

J. Tanner
08-06-2015, 09:02 PM
If you aren't comfortable with a cover, don't use it. End of story.

In regards to the unknown painting, you can take a picture of it, upload it somewhere and do a reverse image search. If the painting happens to be online somewhere else, you might find it and potentially get more info about it.

But I wouldn't bother. From your description, I wouldn't want anything to do with this artist, whether it's their work, or something public domain they've come across.

Honestly, just save up for a few weeks until you have $30-50 and buy a premade cover.

That's a pretty minimal expense for starting a business. If you do everything else well, this expense will tend to pay for itself (unless you happen to be a great graphic designer in regards to typography. Book covers aren't just about the image.)

Polenth
08-06-2015, 09:21 PM
Actually, that only reinforces my decision because the website I'm working with makes it clear that it's not acceptable to use public domain materials. I suppose there's a chance that they're not referring to imagery, but I would just rather err on the side of caution.

It'd be a first if that was the case. Usually places mean they don't want public domain writing cluttering up their listings, not that artists can't use public domain elements in their cover design. You could ask them.


Um... he is giving me permission to use the prints on my cover. I'm not sure what's confusing about that.

The prints confusion here is that usually prints is used to mean a printed copy. The printed copy will come from a digital file. In these cases, what you're after is that digital file, rather than a physical print. Which is why people are wondering if you mean prints as in linoprints or the like, where each one is unique.

If it is the case that they're pictures produced by a printing technique, do be sure you get the one that works for your story. Prints in a series can look wildly different. The best from an artistic perspective might not be the best for your cover. If it's not the case and this is a printout of a work, you want that digital file (or access to the original piece to take your own photograph/scan).

RedWombat
08-06-2015, 11:30 PM
Um, the prints that he would like me to use are currently "covered" as in not readily visible at the time and he is going to "uncover" them as in when he finds them they will not be covered any longer.



...what?

I am a professional illustrator (for my sins!) and I am afraid I am completely baffled by what you are trying to say here. Why are they covered? What's covering them? He needs to find them? Did he lose them in a stack of papers? Why aren't they readily visible?

Maybe we are having a mix-up of terms. Let's try this:

A print is a physical object with the picture on it.
An image file is the digital thing you use to make a cover.
A scan is when you take a print and make an image file from it using a scanner.

Do you have an image file? Or are you waiting for him to find a lost print so that you can scan the print and make one? Because that's what it sounds like is going on here...

ETA: Wait--do you by any chance have an image file that's too low-resolution? And the artist is trying to find where he put the higher resolution file so that you can make a cover out of it?

J. Tanner
08-06-2015, 11:49 PM
The impression I got is that they're going through canvases (or similar print media). Some of those canvases that might be a good fit for the cover are not easily accessible. (ie. my old stuff is in boxed away in the attic, or in my parents garage.)

veinglory
08-07-2015, 12:55 AM
I very much doubt that this site does not allow public domain images on covers , more likely they do not want people publishing public domains texts.

If you have a digital version run it through tineye.com and see if anything comes up.

Latina Bunny
08-07-2015, 01:08 AM
Like veinglory said, put the digital copy through tineye.com or even google, and see if similar images have been used on other things.

What does "uncovering" mean? To take off copyright watermarks of an image or something? Or, he/she's literally uncovering the non-digital prints and converting them to digital (through scanning or taking a photo of the print/original artwork).

NateSean
08-07-2015, 11:40 PM
...what?

I am a professional illustrator (for my sins!) and I am afraid I am completely baffled by what you are trying to say here. Why are they covered? What's covering them? He needs to find them? Did he lose them in a stack of papers? Why aren't they readily visible?


Okay, I think I understand now. The idea is that I would scan his artwork and try to use photoshop or something to create the title. But I would need the physical piece that he would be okay with before I could do that. Alas, I attempted to do a scan but unfortunately I can already tell that whatever I attempt to do with it is still going to look like a copy and paste job.

I apologize if I came off snobbish. Sometimes I forget that in conversation, people aren't always going to know what I mean if I don't explain things properly.

He (the artist) means well but I agree that I should probably just see what I can do to get a premade cover as J. Tanner suggests. The website I'm working with even provides a list of people who do this sort of thing just in case, so maybe that will be best in the long run.

RedWombat
08-08-2015, 06:56 AM
Okay! Yeah, the terminology gets a little muddled there. There's some really good cover artists who work inexpensively and have good design skills, which are even more important than good cover images. Good luck!