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View Full Version : Cover Design Ripped Off - Would You Want to Know?



randi.lee
03-31-2016, 05:53 PM
So here's my dilemma: a friend of mine just revealed the cover to her new book. She's super excited about it, and she should be! It's a gorgeous cover that she spent a lot of money on. The only problem is that when I saw the cover, I immediately recognized it, because it is a carbon copy of another one of my friend's covers for a book she released several months ago. The two covers aren't just similar, either. They're damn near identical twins.

I would want to know if my cover had been ripped off, or if I paid for a ripped off cover. Would you? Should I tell them both what I've found? Or are there a lot of covers out there that are copy cat of something else?

veinglory
03-31-2016, 06:02 PM
Yes. No need to draw conclusions, just send her a link to the cover twin FYI.

Parametric
03-31-2016, 06:07 PM
I'd want to know. Most likely someone will tell her, so it might as well come from a friend.

Maggie Maxwell
03-31-2016, 06:09 PM
While there are undeniably cases of the same art being used for different novels, I'd still want to know, especially if the person with the matching cover was close enough to be a friend of a friend. The matching art cases I know of are usually a single painting or image reused (example: 1 (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13153825-playing-with-matches), 2 (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13147826-playing-dead)). Doesn't necessarily mean anything was ripped off, just that the designers had similar aesthetic plans for the novel. Still, I'd say tell them.

randi.lee
03-31-2016, 06:23 PM
I thought as much. I just hate being the bearer of crappy news...Thanks, everyone!

amergina
03-31-2016, 06:25 PM
Could be that they used the same stock art. It happens!

Earthling
03-31-2016, 06:33 PM
I'd want to know and wouldn't shoot the messenger.

Snowstorm
03-31-2016, 06:50 PM
First, I'd want to know. Second, have you mentioned this to the second author? I would.

Echoing others upthread, there's a possibility that it's not a rip-off. If, say, the cover has the Mona Lisa on the cover, then no problem as that's free use and similarities happen.

Perhaps both authors used the same designer and the designer has stock photos or a habit of designing covers in similar fashion, in which case the second author might want changes to the cover (or not). Either way, the authors should know and that's something the second author and the designer to decide if changes are warranted.

randi.lee
03-31-2016, 06:56 PM
First, I'd want to know. Second, have you mentioned this to the second author? I would.

Echoing others upthread, there's a possibility that it's not a rip-off. If, say, the cover has the Mona Lisa on the cover, then no problem as that's free use and similarities happen.

Perhaps both authors used the same designer and the designer has stock photos or a habit of designing covers in similar fashion, in which case the second author might want changes to the cover (or not). Either way, the authors should know and that's something the second author and the designer to decide if changes are warranted.

Thanks for responding, Snow. I know who each person used for their cover designs, so I know that it wasn't the same designer for both covers.

After reading some of the responses, I shot separate emails off to both parties letting them know what I found. I still feel bad...I wouldn't want to be either person receiving this news!!

jjdebenedictis
03-31-2016, 06:57 PM
There are situations where the art shows up on more than one cover quite legally and ethically, but yes, gently point it out to your friend. If she paid for something original and got a copy-paste instead, then she has a right to sue for her money back.

Also, the artist who did the other book's artwork may not be aware they're being plagiarized and might also appreciate a heads-up, but be gentle and an exploratory in how you approach the matter, regardless of who you talk to. Sometimes two books do wind up with twin covers without anything nefarious having occurred.

Edit: Cross-posted wit' ya! :)

randi.lee
03-31-2016, 07:00 PM
There are situations where the art shows up on more than one cover quite legally and ethically, but yes, gently point it out to your friend. If she paid for something original and got a copy-paste instead, then she has a right to sue for her money back.

Also, the artist who did the other book's artwork may not be aware they're being plagiarized and might also appreciate a heads-up, but be gentle and an exploratory in how you approach the matter, regardless of who you talk to. Sometimes two books do wind up with twin covers without anything nefarious having occurred.

Edit: Cross-posted wit' ya! :)

Thanks, JJ :) I was pretty gentle with my emails. I didn't accuse anyone of stealing anything--just gave them both a heads up of what I found :)

Jamesaritchie
03-31-2016, 08:23 PM
The key here is "spent a lot of money on". Stock cover art should not cost a lot of money. When you pay a lot of money for something, it should be original.

My favorite cover of all time was free, and it was as perfect for the novel as any cover art I've ever seen. It came from The Library of Congress.

Anyway, there's nothing necessarily wrong with stock art, but it should not be costly, and should not be gracing the cover of more than one book at great expense. So, yes, tell your friend.

Alessandra Kelley
03-31-2016, 09:38 PM
Could be that they used the same stock art. It happens!

Boy, does it ever.

http://causticcovercritic.blogspot.com/2011/11/if-she-could-just-meet-man-by-fence.html

ShaunHorton
03-31-2016, 10:50 PM
Yeah, I can only echo what everyone else has said for your case.

I've been struggling with whether or not to tell people when I see them post cover art that's obviously ripped from somewhere else that I know isn't open source. I mean, I try not to assume everyone is a thief that thinks they'll get away with it. It's possible they don't know the genre they're publishing in and rather iconic images get dropped in by equally ignorant digital artists.

One option I was given for a cover for my sci-fi/horror Class 5, for example. I wanted a crashed spaceship in the desert. I figured a few pieces of metal-based wreckage would suffice. Nope. He had the Serenity from Firefly hanging out on the ground there. The artist doesn't usually do sci-fi, he had no clue, but I asked for something different because 1) well, use of that probably would be copyright infringement. 2) the fandom would likely have crucified me.

But now I see people posting their books on Facebook, with covers obviously lifted from music albums or card games, usually with only a minor change like transparent flames around the edges, and I consider whether or not I should poke at it to let people know. Like I said, it might just be that they didn't know where the art came from and that it's due to an unscrupulous cover designer. On the other hand, it might be that they don't know (or care) about the possible can of worms they're opening over copyright infringement.

Amadan
04-03-2016, 11:44 PM
Related (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1549166/star-traders-kickstarter-and-borrowed-assets) (boardgames, not books).

It's really quite remarkable. People have found that virtually every single thing the "artist" for this project produced is basically a quick-dirty photoshop job ripped off from elsewhere.

Roxxsmom
04-04-2016, 12:04 AM
Boy, does it ever.

http://causticcovercritic.blogspot.com/2011/11/if-she-could-just-meet-man-by-fence.html

Wow, that lady gets around, doesn't she?

The question I'd have is whether or not the cover artist advertised that their cover was unique and not using stock images. I'd expect canned covers to be more affordable but also less unique. If I paid for a uniquely designed cover and gotten a stock cover (no matter how nicely done), I'd be peeved.

BenPanced
04-04-2016, 02:53 AM
But now I see people posting their books on Facebook, with covers obviously lifted from music albums or card games, usually with only a minor change like transparent flames around the edges, and I consider whether or not I should poke at it to let people know. Like I said, it might just be that they didn't know where the art came from and that it's due to an unscrupulous cover designer. On the other hand, it might be that they don't know (or care) about the possible can of worms they're opening over copyright infringement.

A publisher being discussed over on BR&BC blatantly used photos pulled from "sexy" Halloween costumes on a couple of their covers. There have also been cases over on YouTube where somebody has created a book trailer using stock photos with the service's watermark intact. Many times, I think it's a matter of either "oh, we're so small, nobody's going to notice" or "yay! Free public domain stock! I don't need to worry about reading the TOS!"

EMaree
04-04-2016, 04:09 AM
Yeap. A frankly horrifying amount of people think anything found in Google Images is free to use, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Back in 2005-ish I had to gently inform a reputable, Greek trade publisher that they couldn't use the box art from Final Fantasy 10 as my book cover (http://emmamaree.com/when-book-cover-designers-get-lazy/).

VeryBigBeard
04-04-2016, 04:18 AM
He had the Serenity from Firefly hanging out on the ground there. The artist doesn't usually do sci-fi, he had no clue, but I asked for something different because 1) well, use of that probably would be copyright infringement. 2) the fandom would likely have crucified me.

It's Serenity, gorramn it. No "the". :greenie

/geekery


Yeap. A frankly horrifying amount of people think anything found in Google Images is free to use, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Back in 2005-ish I had to gently inform a reputable, Greek trade publisher that they couldn't use the box art from Final Fantasy 10 as my book cover (http://emmamaree.com/when-book-cover-designers-get-lazy/).

This rather blows my mind. That cover was everywhere when it came out. You couldn't have walked past an electronics store anywhere in the world without seeing it.

Sadly, I'm not exactly surprised. Just flabbergasted how many people it must have made it past before you spotted it.

ShaunHorton
04-04-2016, 07:52 AM
Yeah. One guy that was parading his book all over Facebook, had a cover that was obviously the mascot of the band Disturbed.

https://scontent.fsnc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t34.0-12/10565722_10207952825634757_622322270_n.jpg?oh=0f14 7e84bff2e469153c6b4fce24f438&oe=5703FFD0

The guy he hired from Deviantart, just shopped out the flames, and added wings, and made it black and white.

I messaged him privately and pointed it out, and I'm rather happy to see that he's already replaced his cover. Pretty simple, and not going to win any awards, but he shouldn't run afoul of any copyright infringement.

Sometimes, people just don't know.

ShaunHorton
04-04-2016, 07:57 AM
The other one I've found, which I haven't prodded at the authors, was this one.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61OQx5T3UuL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg https://www.abugames.com/images/products/magic2012m12foil/QuicksilverAmulet.jpg

Granted, M:TG has over 33,000 cards, not counting alternate art, but still...

It's things like this that's made it so hard for me to feel comfortable hiring anybody for cover art for my next book. I just don't trust people when I see this stuff everywhere.

Roxxsmom
04-04-2016, 08:08 AM
Yeap. A frankly horrifying amount of people think anything found in Google Images is free to use, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

Definitely not, and if something is being used commercially already, it's almost certainly copyrighted.

However, I'm nearly certain I saw a dragon silhouette I'd encountered on a creative commons site used on the cover of a Big-5-published novel. I guess the people working for Ace and other book companies are allowed to pull stock images too and incorporate them into their designs if they're not copyrighted. It's kind of a bummer that even trade-publishers are no longer using "real" art anymore.

PeteMC
04-04-2016, 02:18 PM
Yeah. One guy that was parading his book all over Facebook, had a cover that was obviously the mascot of the band Disturbed.

https://scontent.fsnc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t34.0-12/10565722_10207952825634757_622322270_n.jpg?oh=0f14 7e84bff2e469153c6b4fce24f438&oe=5703FFD0



Oh I like that - looks like the same artist who did some of Manowar's covers.



However, I'm nearly certain I saw a dragon silhouette I'd encountered on a creative commons site used on the cover of a Big-5-published novel. I guess the people working for Ace and other book companies are allowed to pull stock images too and incorporate them into their designs if they're not copyrighted. It's kind of a bummer that even trade-publishers are no longer using "real" art anymore.

My publisher still uses real original art - it's fascinating getting sent the positionals and roughs and getting to ask for changes as the work progresses.

juniper
04-06-2016, 08:05 AM
It's kind of a bummer that even trade-publishers are no longer using "real" art anymore.


When I read the book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, published by Vintage Books, I saw an iStock photo credit for the cover. They modified the photo - original has 2 boots, book cover has 1 boot - but this is it here: http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/worn-boots-gm145989255-6053756?st=1593f1b and this is the book http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Trail/dp/0307476073

slhuang
04-14-2016, 05:15 PM
It's things like this that's made it so hard for me to feel comfortable hiring anybody for cover art for my next book. I just don't trust people when I see this stuff everywhere.

My cover artist verifies the stock photos she's using for each cover with me before she puts together the design, to make sure they fit what I want. To do this, she emails me links to the actual stock photo pages (from Shutterstock and the like), so a by-product of the process is that I'd be able to point to exactly what stock images we used for each cover. I'm sure any cover designer worth their salt would be happy to tell you which images they used even if they worked slightly differently. Anyway, point is, with a good designer this doesn't have to be a concern. :)

I can't remember if my main designer has this specifically in her contract because I've worked with her for so long, but the designer I worked with for a recent anthology had in the contract a black-and-white guarantee that all the images used were legally available and that any restrictions on them (number of impressions, etc) would be passed on to us, and that was done exactly as promised. It's actually a good thing to ask about those licenses and restrictions anyway even if your designer isn't experienced enough to offer, because all stock photo sites have them. And it's perfectly reasonable to dialogue about these things as part of your business discussions with your designer.

veinglory
04-14-2016, 06:00 PM
Indeed. Most artists are very clear about whether the are using original, exclusive, or stock elements--because the price you pay for each varies a great deal.