Roger Dean, the British artist best known for his album covers for ‘70s and ‘80s prog-rock leviathans Yes and Asia, has just filed a $50million legal action against director James Cameron.
The reason? According to papers filed in New York last week, Cameron’s ‘wilful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation’ of Dean’s art in the creation of the writer-director’s record-breaking 2009 blockbuster film production Avatar.
Dean, whose portfolio also includes the artwork for the semi-legendary/best-forgotten Shadow of the Beast home computer games, is apparently particularly peed off about the flying islands and sky arches which characterised Avatar’s alien setting, Pandora.
As per those pesky legal papers: ‘The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre’
Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all-time with a global gross in excess of $2billion. It was also nominated for nine Oscars and won three, but it has already been the subject of claims of plagiarism and, perhaps inevitably, numerous lawsuits.
The most high profile of those was issued in December 2011 by screenwriter Bryant Moore, who sued Cameron for a whopping $2.5b, claiming that Avatar contains elements of two scripts he sent to the Titanic director in the early ‘90s – the enticingly titled Aquatica and Descendents: The Pollination.
In March this year, Cameron and Fox, the studio that produced Avatar, failed to have Moore’s case dismissed, meaning that those legal proceedings are still rumbling on and the lawyers’ fees of all concerned are doubtless totting ever higher skywards.
And indeed, Cameron has past form with notable accusations of plagiarism: the filmmaker was forced to settle out of court with sci-fi author Harlan Ellison over claims that the former’s breakthrough movie, The Terminator, ripped off the latter’s scripts, Soldier and Demon with a Glass Hand, both of which were penned for TV show The Outer Limits.
In tribute to Dean, let’s tango across the purple rainbow and wig out to some Yes.
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