I’m fairly new to the world of self-publishing, and one of the first things I noticed was the startling amount of stolen art that is occurring without our writing community. Now, I’m not talking about copying story ideas or plagiarizing, but something much more insidious and damaging. This type of theft can be so blatant at times that it risks substantial harm to the thieves themselves.
The above is promotional material presumably for a romance novel. Here is where the author snagged it:
Did the author know this is copyrighted material? Was the hired artist a professional? Had they heard of intellectual property? Since the stolen art was used in promotional advertising and not the actual cover of the book, did they not care?
Let’s look at another:
Dude! Those look awesome! Especially the middle one.
OH, I SEE WHY:
They lifted the character Raiden from the billion dollar franchise of Metal Gear Solid from Konami. The cover artist changed some of the color and made his eye glow, but alas, a bit of dressing does not a copyright unmake. Does the artist hope no one will notice, banking on the ignorance of the author himself? My God, what if the author commissioned the cover artist for hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the artist did a copy-paste from a Bing search and laughed all the way to the bank? Are the other two covers original, or are they lifted from some more obscure designs?
Not only did this person steal, but they made it ugly. It’s like nabbing a Porsche and then airbrushing kittens on the hood. While the image above isn’t specifically stolen, the sword itself should wave a few flags. That weapon is extremely recognizable because of its rare hollow pommel, a true feat of smithing. Also, that fine blade was brandished in one of the largest film franchises in history as a center piece. Aside from the stolen art, how many ideas within this novel are nabbed as well?
Aragorn is not pleased.
Movies may be the easiest medium to steal from. Perhaps because the assets are so visual? Do we dream of having sales numbers like films, and therefore we are desperate to pilfer whatever we can, whenever we can? Here’s another example of theft from a film to promote a novel:
My God, that image is terrifying. And it was even scarier in the film Night of the Hunter :
Oopsie Daisy! When I saw this on Twitter, I inquired.
Shouldn’t we be accountable for blatant copyright theft? Shouldn’t we know what is on the cover of our novels? If we, as a community, are willing to allow an attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” when it comes to the presentation of our work and craft, then clearly we are headed toward collapse. Independent authors like us won’t be taken seriously or viewed as a viable alternative to the major publishing houses. I can’t express how furious I am that these authors—with whom I stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the marketplace—have covers and promotional materials that are clearly stolen. I have reached out to each, linked where the images in question originated from, and only ONE AUTHOR responded with “Oh shit!” and fixed the issue A.S.A.P. (that author is not on this list).
There is no debate or grey area: this harms authors. But circling back to my original concern: why are we using graphics that we do not own or have permission to use? I’ve got some ideas:
1.) The author has no idea and is being fleeced by the cover artist or marketing firm.
2.) The author hired someone who is not a professional, and that individual doesn’t care.
3.) The author can’t write an original book, so why bother with an original cover?
4.) The author knows they will never be successful as a writer, so their poaching will fly under the radar.
5.) The author is too dumb to understand copyright law.
That’s all I got.
So what do you think? Why did the above authors steal and what’s more, ignore warnings when they were informed of said theft? Do they not monitor their communication feeds, and my complaint got lost in the shuffle? Do they think they can blame the cover artist/promoter if and when they get caught? Do such authors forget that their name is on these things? What’s more, I wonder how the graphic artists feel about this, as well as the companies that own or commissioned the stolen art?