Artist Roger Dean, whose artwork graced the cover of Yes's Close to the Edge and dozens of other albums, has sued filmmaker James Cameron and 20th Century Fox, claiming that images featured in the film Avatar are a little too close to Dean's original artwork.
In the suit filed in New York late last month, Dean accuses Cameron of "willful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation" of his original artwork in Avatar, which just happens to be the highest-grossing film of all time. Our inquiry to 20th Century Fox for comment on the suit wasn't immediately returned.
In the complaint, filed under the artist's full name, William Roger Dean, he's seeking more than $50 million in damages. Aside from his famed album covers, Dean's fantasy landscapes have been exhibited around the world and he also drew up a film proposal based on his artwork that he shopped at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, according to Deadline.com.
The suit says that Avatar's land of Pandora features "floating mountains" and "stone arches" that are copied from his paintings of the same names, and the "Hometree" from the film is copied from his "Pathways" and "Floating Jungle" paintings. "The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity to the Plaintiff's Works that Defendants and others employed in preparation of the film must have had access to the Plaintiffs Works," says one part of the 17-page complaint.
Dean wants more than just money. He's also seeking an injunction and wants full accounting and a court order to be posted online noting that the defendants stole his work. He's also after a piece of future Avatar projects, including two sequels and a possible prequel and an Avatar-themed attraction at Walt Disney World. The suits says those future projects "are very likely to utilize many of the original images of the Plaintiff which would further continue Defendants breach of contractual obligations owed to Plaintiff."