Author Topic: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images  (Read 5938 times)  

Offline Melody Simmons

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Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« on: July 10, 2018, 04:43:11 PM »
This is being discussed in groups on Facebook and I felt it is important enough to post here since not everyone uses Facebook all the time.  I also feel it is important to warn especially newer authors to make sure they know where their cover designer is getting images from - and to be aware that instances like this often happen in places like Fiverr or 99 Designs.



Edited again to add: The specific allegation is that a designer producing ostensibly original illustrations for fantasy covers instead based their illustrations on a variety of preexisting images, both illustrated and photographic, pulling elements from here and there and using digital overpainting to weave them together, without having permission to use the foundational images. One example showed how a well regarded cover illustration actually appears to combine someone else's illustration with part of a photograph of a known actor's face and details from a photograph of a suit of armor. Four other such example were included. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 12:57:40 AM by Becca Mills »

Offline WasAnn

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 05:16:23 PM »
Oh my goodness! I haven't had that problem, but I also use very few designers with wide trust bases.

That said, looking at the combined images above, all I'd wonder is where they got such an awesome digital painter for their book covers. How in the world would an author know how to find those images after they've been diddled like that? Is there a list of designers who are doing this that we can avoid?

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 05:21:16 PM »
Oh my goodness! I haven't had that problem, but I also use very few designers with wide trust bases.

That said, looking at the combined images above, all I'd wonder is where they got such an awesome digital painter for their book covers. How in the world would an author know how to find those images after they've been diddled like that? Is there a list of designers who are doing this that we can avoid?

I guess that is a problem.  I believe these were identified by someone who does a lot of online gaming.  The designer may have a lot more covers out there with elements drawn from less well-known sources than these obviously popular ones.  I don't have any real answer to this, except to verify a designer's reputation by word-of-mouth.  And to be very wary of places like Fiverr and 99 Designs...you could also ask the designer to give you the reference to the source stock models used.  Even designers who hand-paint digital art usually use models as a reference.  They need to be careful not to use popular actors and copy their faces.

[Link redacted for the time being.]



Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 07:51:53 PM by Becca Mills »

Online Patty Jansen

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 05:25:40 PM »
It gets even more murky because when you go to any fan con, you'll see that fan art (which copies characters and scenes verbatim from movies, games etc.) is out in the open and for sale everywhere, so obviously someone is not terribly worried about it, never mind that it's illegal. Some of the artists are awesome and make BANK at these conventions. So the next step, to use these images for original art, may not be a huge step in the artist's mind.

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 05:29:47 PM »
It gets even more murky because when you go to any fan con, you'll see that fan art (which copies characters and scenes verbatim from movies, games etc.) is out in the open and for sale everywhere, so obviously someone is not terribly worried about it, never mind that it's illegal. Some of the artists are awesome and make BANK at these conventions. So the next step, to use these images for original art, may not be a huge step in the artist's mind.

Yes I also thought about this - that the person did not do it out of malice but out of ignorance.  Cover designers need to become informed about copyright in the publishing industry. Fan-art is supposed to be strictly non-commercial, and even then it is risky if there is no proper permission from the copyright holder.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 05:36:57 PM by Melody Simmons »

Offline celadon

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 05:30:09 PM »
There's no excuse for this.

I am not "victim blaming" because I don't think all authors know this. But if the cover is cheap (under $100) and it has original artwork (not stock photos or some form of photography), then beware! All these examples look like digital art more than photos (though some photographs were digitally edited and enhanced to look more painted).

I'm familiar with https://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/index.php and their vetting process is pretty strict. I can't guarantee that their vetting process is foolproof, but I'd be much more comfortable dealing with them than with fiverr or something.

Offline Day Leitao

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2018, 05:44:00 PM »
This is scary, especially for authors who look for original art...  Thanks for posting.

The designer is obviously very skilled, though, and it might be a matter of ignorance more than anything. Still, of course, it's a huge issue. And it's impossible for an author to know if the image was taken from a legal image bank or not. Yikes.

Edit to add: asking for the artists to provide their sources might be a good idea with newer or unknown artists. That's a great idea.

One thing I'll comment is that 99 designs is not cheap, though, especially with a top-rated designer like that one. For me it shows that a book cover at that site costs C$329 to C$849 (in Canadian dollars).

Another comment is that most reputable designers at Fiverr ask you to pick your own image, usually at Depositphotos, so I don't see how this type of mistake could happen there. Full disclosure: I used a Fiverr designer for typography for one of my covers with custom art and she asked me if I had the rights for the image before proceeding.

I understand the desire to blame cheap artists, but I don't think that's what's happening here.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 05:47:31 PM by Day Leitao »

Online Patty Jansen

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2018, 05:47:46 PM »
Yes I also thought about this - that the person did not do it out of malice but out of ignorance.  Cover designers need to become informed about copyright in the publishing industry. Fan-art is supposed to be strictly non-commercial, and even then it is risky if there is no proper permission from the copyright holder.

When you're at these cons, you will often see creators of the games and movies in question wander through the Artist's Alley and chat with the artists. They know it happens, they judge the benefit from allowing it greater than the fallout from suing people. In this fan circuit, licensing etc is pretty much a non-thing.

So never assume malice where ignorance will suffice.

Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2018, 05:52:34 PM »
There's no excuse for this.

I am not "victim blaming" because I don't think all authors know this. But if the cover is cheap (under $100) and it has original artwork (not stock photos or some form of photography), then beware! All these examples look like digital art more than photos (though some photographs were digitally edited and enhanced to look more painted).

I'm familiar with https://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/index.php and their vetting process is pretty strict. I can't guarantee that their vetting process is foolproof, but I'd be much more comfortable dealing with them than with fiverr or something.

The designer in question was paid between $300-$500 per book cover so just because you're paying more than $100 doesn't mean you're in the clear.

Very eye-opening warning for us to really do our due diligence. Can we ask a designer for license information that they can send us? Or have them sign something guaranteeing all images they're using are legit. Just brainstorming here.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:11:52 PM by Becca Mills »


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Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2018, 06:00:38 PM »
The designer in question was paid between $300-$500 per book cover on so just because you're paying more than $100 doesn't mean you're in the clear.

Very eye-opening warning for us to really do our due diligence. Can we ask a designer for license information that they can send us? Or have them sign something guaranteeing all images they're using are legit. Just brainstorming here.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca

I think if it is photo-manipulation it is pretty easy to ask for the reference to where the image was purchased.  The main problem will lie with hand-painted digital art, where the author may assume that the person is creating a character or dragon or whatever from scratch.  They should ask for the reference - like I said many digital artists may base their work on references.  If they are truly drawing from scratch then they should have rough sketches of their initial work that they built up progressively.  If they are looking at references they should have the images to show you - some use 3D models from Daz to base their work on, and that is allowed for commercial purposes.  If they use stock models then that is fine. Some purchase 3D space ship renders and if they have the correct commercial license that is fine.  But if they are drawing from movie stars and non-commercial images and their drawings look like the source, I think the author needs to check on this and inform them it is not allowed if they do not know.  Or if they have space ships and fantasy scenes that look awesome - ask them to show how they created that. 

Ask for their source reference images, then do a Google reverse image or Tineye search and see what comes up.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:12:27 PM by Becca Mills »

Offline WasAnn

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2018, 06:13:09 PM »
I guess that is a problem.  I believe these were identified by someone who does a lot of online gaming.  The designer may have a lot more covers out there with elements drawn from less well-known sources than these obviously popular ones.  I don't have any real answer to this, except to verify a designer's reputation by word-of-mouth.  And to be very wary of places like Fiverr and 99 Designs...you could also ask the designer to give you the reference to the source stock models used.  Even designers who hand-paint digital art usually use models as a reference.  They need to be careful not to use popular actors and copy their faces.

[Link redacted for the time being.]


Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca

I just went and looked at here. Nothing at all in her stats indicates even one tiny problem! And she ain't cheap. Her work looks absolutely amazing.

Which scared the bejeeberus out of me.

If you can't see anything at all wrong, how in the world can an author know. I mean, I know my *current* cover designer's are good because I see the digital sketches of each element and approve them individually for the custom artwork, plus approve all stocks for the other designer, but if I just went shopping for someone new, I would suspect nothing wrong at all with that one.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:14:08 PM by Becca Mills »

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2018, 06:16:52 PM »
I just went and looked at here. Nothing at all in her stats indicates even one tiny problem! And she ain't cheap. Her work looks absolutely amazing.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca

Mmm...we'll see what happens as I believe this was only discovered today and authors are still being contacted.  But yes I think unfortunately an author must get fully involved in their cover design and not just give a commission and accept the result without question.  You are involved in the selection of images and looking at sketches which is good.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:18:04 PM by Becca Mills »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2018, 06:58:57 PM »
I actually know exactly what book cover that first set of images comes from and I really enjoyed reading it. I do however have a question. Unlike the other images you shared, couldn't that one be considered a derivative piece of art? It's clearly influenced by the other 3 images, but the composition looks "inspired by" as opposed to an absolute exact copy?

Genuinely curious where the line is drawn (pun intended!).

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2018, 07:38:38 PM »
I actually know exactly what book cover that first set of images comes from and I really enjoyed reading it. I do however have a question. Unlike the other images you shared, couldn't that one be considered a derivative piece of art? It's clearly influenced by the other 3 images, but the composition looks "inspired by" as opposed to an absolute exact copy?

Genuinely curious where the line is drawn (pun intended!).

The armor was a custom-made piece, and not a piece of stock at all, so it should never have been touched. And it looks like [an actor's] face was used, which is also not cool. Not sure about that illustration in the middle, but the artist had no right to at least two of the pieces.



Edited. See my post below. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:20:18 PM by Becca Mills »
     

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2018, 07:49:11 PM »
Locked until I can take a look at this later, once the kids are in bed. A quick skim hasn't given me the full picture.

Edit:

As the general warning here -- that even what appear to be original illustrations could violate copyrights, if the illustrator incorporated or based their work on images he/she did not have permission to use -- is extremely important, I'm unlocking this.

I've removed 1) a number of images of book covers matched with source images allegedly used without permission; 2) a link to the site of the designer said to have made the covers; 3) the name of the site where the designer could be hired; 4) a lengthy accusatory quotation from somewhere or other, asserted to have been copied with the writer's permission; and 5) other identifying features.

Y'all who've been here a while know we don't do hearsay. If a KBer who actually bought a copyright-infringing cover from this designer would like to civilly relate their personal experience, that would be permitted. If a KBer who had an image or photo used without permission would like to civilly relate their personal experience, that would be permitted. But that's what it would take to get into the specifics, here.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 09:36:23 PM by Becca Mills »

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2018, 10:11:47 PM »
Since this post has been pruned so brutally that it now has no useful information at all, maybe this would be a good subject to discuss more fully over at that new indie site that K'Sennia Visitor started a short while ago. Here's the link... http://indieauthorhaven.freeforums.net  Maybe someone could start the thread over there and fill in some of the info again? I would have started the thread myself, but the site won't let me post for some reason.
     

Online Patty Jansen

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2018, 10:18:29 PM »
I don't often disagree with moderation, but this pruning is ridiculous.

If a book is quoted so that we can all gawk and laugh at it, fine.
If it is because of rumours that are unproven, fine.

But the images actually *showed* how and where the artwork was copied. This constitutes real evidence, and as far as I'm concerned, a community like this should be about provable evidence. There was clear evidence. People (artists and authors alike) really need to be warned about this and that it's not OK.

Offline lilywhite

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2018, 10:30:18 PM »
I agree with Shayne and Patty. There is almost no value at all in a thread that says "Be careful because a cover designer might rip off other covers and images." Like, no duh. The value here was in seeing the images side-by-side and understanding what the infringement looked like.

And I know someone who had 1800$ worth of covers with the artist in question scheduled to start TODAY. Fortunately she saw the kerfluffle on Facebook, but what if she weren't on Facebook? This needs to be talked about openly.

Offline Tulonsae

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2018, 10:36:31 PM »
Facebook is pretty big. When you say something is being discussed on Facebook, where would one find it?

(I've seen the "being discussed on Facebook" in a few threads so I'm not just talking about what the OP posted. I guess that means this question is somewhat off-topic.)

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2018, 11:18:28 PM »
I think the general warning is useful. The possibility of misuse of images in developing original illustrations hadn't really occurred to me; now it does. I don't use the person Melody identified, but you can bet I'll be double-checking with the person I do use to be sure they have appropriate rights to any images or photos they used in developing the illustrations they've done for me.

But if the consensus is that there's little value in getting a general warning out to people who buy illustrations, then I'll lock the thread.

If someone directly involved in this wants to start a new thread, that would be great. People who choose to turn their own experiences into an opportunity for others to learn and protect themselves are community heroes, and we welcome those sorts of threads.

But laying out other people's allegedly copyright-infringing book covers on a heavily trafficked public forum, perhaps deepening those authors' legal risk? No. Serious allegations about named individuals conveyed second- or third-hand? No.

Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2018, 11:48:48 PM »
I appreciate that the forum rules are intended to ensure fairness, prevent witch hunts, and so forth. That said, I had nearly $1,000 worth of covers reserved from this designer. Because of the identifying information shared by other writers, I was able to request a refund before the work began. If there had been no identifying information and no photos of the specifics, I would have spent $1,000 on covers with potential copyright issues, through no fault of my own.

It's perfectly possible that the designer simply acted out of inexperience and now knows better. But for me, personally, I can't afford to buy covers with a question mark over them. I feel like KBers need to have this kind of information in order to make the judgement for themselves.

However, I do appreciate the point about how images of specific covers could cause problems for the authors of those books, so I realize stuff like this is a tough call. Beyond that, I'm obviously not in a position to speculate on the whole business.

Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2018, 12:11:10 AM »
I think the general warning is useful. The possibility of misuse of images in developing original illustrations hadn't really occurred to me; now it does. I don't use the person Melody identified, but you can bet I'll be double-checking with the person I do use to be sure they have appropriate rights to any images or photos they used in developing the illustrations they've done for me.

I'm sorry, but this is not enough.

Sure we now know to check. But what is stopping an artist from LYING, and taking your money, because they desperately need the money.

This is information we need to know. If an artist has done this once, as far a I'm concerned, they are on the avoid like the plague list, and I want to know who these people are.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2018, 12:38:57 AM »
It is tricky, Carol.

Back in the day, I think the details of this situation likely would've been shared here quickly by one of the authors who received suspect covers -- a personal experience, reported by the person it happened to. There simply weren't all that many other venues for indie authors to share information, so conversation was fairly centralized here. Now the "indie conversation" has many places, a good number of them private groups, and people may be less likely to share their experiences here at KBoards. The lack of information here pushes more people to seek out those private venues, and the dynamic snowballs. The people left out are those without access to those private venues, either because they don't know about them or because the venues are invitation-only.

I'm not sure what to do about that dynamic. We really are dependent on people choosing to publicly share things that happen to them here.

I'll fill in a little more detail to the OP in a note. Most of the OP was a quotation whose source could not be verified -- maybe it was a comment from a Fb post? not sure -- which is why there's so little there now.

Ann can take a look at this when she comes online in the morning and see what she thinks.

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2018, 01:03:27 AM »
It is tricky, Carol.

Back in the day, I think the details of this situation likely would've been shared here quickly by one of the authors who received suspect covers -- a personal experience, reported by the person it happened to. There simply weren't all that many other venues for indie authors to share information, so conversation was fairly centralized here. Now the "indie conversation" has many places, a good number of them private groups, and people may be less likely to share their experiences here at KBoards. The lack of information here pushes more people to seek out those private venues, and the dynamic snowballs. The people left out are those without access to those private venues, either because they don't know about them or because the venues are invitation-only.

I'm not sure what to do about that dynamic. We really are dependent on people choosing to publicly share things that happen to them here.

I'll fill in a little more detail to the OP in a note. Most of the OP was a quotation whose source could not be verified -- maybe it was a comment from a Fb post? not sure -- which is why there's so little there now.

Ann can take a look at this when she comes online in the morning and see what she thinks.

Thank you for not banning me from Kboards!  I started the thread because I felt this is a real danger that needs to be brought to attention of all - designers and authors alike.  Actually my information was just second-hand (or actually third-hand) from Facebook, but others involved did not want to post here - for different reasons.  Some designers told me they do not like posting here because often a whole crowd of angry people will descend on your post if they do not like what you say...a sort of mob mentality.  I agreed to take the plunge and post however as I have been a member of Kboards for many years and I mentioned to them that the moderators here help to keep the place in check! 

Anyway for those who want to know more I think if you do a search on Facebook for "unauthorized stock usage" some posts should appear.  But I agree that this is a very public place as opposed to a private group so maybe it is not the best idea to put forth all the information here.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 01:23:25 AM by Melody Simmons »

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2018, 01:18:30 AM »
Since this post has been pruned so brutally that it now has no useful information at all, maybe this would be a good subject to discuss more fully over at that new indie site that K'Sennia Visitor started a short while ago. Here's the link... http://indieauthorhaven.freeforums.net  Maybe someone could start the thread over there and fill in some of the info again? I would have started the thread myself, but the site won't let me post for some reason.

Haha Shayne you're on your own - I already took the plunge here when no one else wanted to.  Not doing it again.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 01:25:59 AM »
I think you do yourself a disservice. I saw the covers before they were expunged and, sheesh, I never would have even envisioned such a thing. I think you did a very good deed of educating those of us who are not in the know.

So many times here on Kboards I feel like I'm not "one of the cool kids" because everyone seems to know the secret who/what they're referring to but me. I realize Kboards has to be careful, but those covers you posted were an eye-opener and I applaud you for thinking enough of the indie community to make the effort to clue us all in.

Lorain O'Neil

Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 02:43:21 AM »
I think you do yourself a disservice. I saw the covers before they were expunged and, sheesh, I never would have even envisioned such a thing. I think you did a very good deed of educating those of us who are not in the know.

So many times here on Kboards I feel like I'm not "one of the cool kids" because everyone seems to know the secret who/what they're referring to but me. I realize Kboards has to be careful, but those covers you posted were an eye-opener and I applaud you for thinking enough of the indie community to make the effort to clue us all in.

Ditto.

Offline AmesburyArcher

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2018, 03:27:27 AM »
Interesting, and I guess in the digital age and with premade covers being popular with indies, this was bound to happen in increasing numbers, but...it's certainly not a new thing!
A friend of mine was a 'heaththrob' actor back in the 1980's. I cannot tell you how many times I spotted his face, and sometimes  even the clothes he wore in the series he was best known for, on various book covers in the 80's/early 90's! This includes two books by very high profile, 'big Five' fantasy authors!
He was aware of it, made jokes about 'I should be paid for this!' but he wasn't that bothered...


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Offline DonovanJeremiah

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2018, 04:16:32 AM »
Great. So now I have no idea who to skirt around and not engage and risk losing money.

Great PSA but it's like warning to make sure you back up your data. A little late after you've already lost it.

Offline Melody Simmons

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2018, 04:36:39 AM »
Great. So now I have no idea who to skirt around and not engage and risk losing money.

Great PSA but it's like warning to make sure you back up your data. A little late after you've already lost it.

Paste "unauthorized stock usage" into Facebook at the top in the search box and some posts should appear.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #30 on: July 11, 2018, 04:39:30 AM »
Paste "unauthorized stock usage" into Facebook at the top in the search box and some posts should appear.

Thank you. I was looking everywhere but since I'm barely on facebook, I don't have friends discussing this.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #31 on: July 11, 2018, 04:39:59 AM »
Melody, thanks so much for posting this. I also think that the tips you posted to double check if a digital artist is work is legal are great.

That said, it must be horrible for affected authors right now. I'm not sure it's a good idea for their covers to be exposed in public.

I haven't seen this discussed in any FB group. Could you maybe point out a direction? Edit: OK, "unauthorized stock usage" does the trick.

For people jumping in, this has nothing to do with premade covers.

The artist in question used art from other artists (from DeviantArt, for example), or from games, famous images, etc.




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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2018, 04:47:43 AM »
Paste "unauthorized stock usage" into Facebook at the top in the search box and some posts should appear.

Melody, thank you for the PSA - and the hint on searching Facebook, which worked for me.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #33 on: July 11, 2018, 05:24:39 AM »
Can we ask a designer for license information that they can send us? Or have them sign something guaranteeing all images they're using are legit. Just brainstorming here.

People DON'T already do this?

If you are contracting someone to create custom art, the contract should already include a disclaimer regarding rights and a requirement for licensing information if stock images are being used. The contract should clearly explain who owns the final image, what rights are being conferred to whom, and any restrictions on the images use.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #34 on: July 11, 2018, 05:28:07 AM »
I saw this post on Facebook in the "20Books to 50K" closed forum -- which is an appropriate place for it to be discussed as they are a non-public "closed" group.  Given that Kboards is 100% public, I agree with the mods decision to make this thread a little more generic and avoid pointing out things that could potentially be slanderous, etc.  All it takes is one person with deep pockets and a good lawyer to wreak havoc, whether right or wrong, and potentially close down these boards.  Secondly, I want to thank the OP for bringing this board's attention -- this is an important issue!

I commented on the original Facebook thread that authors also need to watch what they download from stock photo sites.  For example, some of you may notice I changed the cover for Book 1 of my latest.  The original used a fantastic image of the Space Needle -- purchased from a stock photo site.  It was NOT labeled 'editorial'.  As it turns out, the Space Needle is trademarked.  Using it centrally in a commercial design is a no-no (though it can be included in the larger skyline if not central).

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #35 on: July 11, 2018, 05:37:17 AM »
I admit I'm not extremely well versed on all this, but I think it's scary for some authors who may not be plugged in to all this stuff.  After all, to the untrained eye, these "stolen images" with same faces or same other elements, look exactly the same as legit stock photos which have been been (perfectly lawfully) tweaked into covers.  So now a lot of people are aware of a problem, but still may not be any better able to identify it when they see it.   :-\

**Edited to state that I saw the images in question yesterday, before they were excised.  My comments are based on those images.**


Interesting, and I guess in the digital age and with premade covers being popular with indies, this was bound to happen in increasing numbers, but...it's certainly not a new thing!
A friend of mine was a 'heaththrob' actor back in the 1980's. I cannot tell you how many times I spotted his face, and sometimes  even the clothes he wore in the series he was best known for, on various book covers in the 80's/early 90's! This includes two books by very high profile, 'big Five' fantasy authors!
He was aware of it, made jokes about 'I should be paid for this!' but he wasn't that bothered...

I don't know who your friend is, but I know I've seen quite a number of stock photos & premades with people who look clearly and suspiciously like famous actors or models or what have you.  Take an existing photo, tweak the nose or change eye color or one or two other minor changes... I'm sure it's done a lot more than we realize.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 06:05:12 AM by Jena H »
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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #36 on: July 11, 2018, 06:36:05 AM »
I usually agree with the moderation on these forums, but in this case, I think the link to that cover designer (or his/her name) should be made public. This is not about shaming someone, but warning authors. As a "cautionary tale", this thread is useless to me. I am design-stupid, this is WHY I hire other people to design covers for me. I cannot tell if an image is kosher or not. I rely on 100% trust and contracts (but people have been known to break both), so knowing which designers are not to be trusted would be a great help.

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Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #37 on: July 11, 2018, 06:52:37 AM »
People DON'T already do this?

If you are contracting someone to create custom art, the contract should already include a disclaimer regarding rights and a requirement for licensing information if stock images are being used. The contract should clearly explain who owns the final image, what rights are being conferred to whom, and any restrictions on the images use.
My covers don't require custom art. I do check the designers background and they do state I get my images from XYZ stock site and I'm a member and licensed and blah blah and that's been good enough for me. Now I'm wondering if I should ask to see more proof. That's what I'm wondering. And no contract for stock image manipulation and I believe I'm in the norm here.


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« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 06:55:49 AM by Alan Petersen »


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #38 on: July 11, 2018, 07:21:01 AM »
I would strongly suggest that, if you are getting any sort of custom art done (whether original or stock manipulation), you should be getting an actual contract. If for no other reason that to cover your butt when stuff like this happens. It doesn't need to be a twelve page tome, but it should, at a minimum, spell out exactly what rights you are purchases, any restrictions on the final image, and the licensing information for the image.

A contract won't stop someone who is working unethically. But it provides your business with a certain level of protection. If there is a question, you have an actual contract AND copy of the license to show as evidence that you were acting with due diligence and in good faith. Due diligence and good faith are still a legal protections that can mitigate your personal liabilities in a copyright issue. Particularly if the courts have to determine statutory damages. If you are found to have willfully violated a copyright, the statutory awards up to $150,000 per use. An accidental infringer, however (i.e. you can prove you had no reason to believe you were in violation) can be only $200 per use.

But just having a receipt from ABCAnybody Dude on Fiverr who may be living in East Whotheheckknowswhere is not going to be much of a protection that you were showing due diligence and acting in good faith.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #39 on: July 11, 2018, 08:38:47 AM »
It's always good to ask for the working file in layers or to at least ask for a snapshot of the process. I'm sure that the artist wouldn't oppose this since it just takes a few extra seconds.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2018, 08:57:55 AM »
Thank you for not banning me from Kboards!  I started the thread because I felt this is a real danger that needs to be brought to attention of all - designers and authors alike.  Actually my information was just second-hand (or actually third-hand) from Facebook, but others involved did not want to post here - for different reasons.  Some designers told me they do not like posting here because often a whole crowd of angry people will descend on your post if they do not like what you say...a sort of mob mentality.  I agreed to take the plunge and post however as I have been a member of Kboards for many years and I mentioned to them that the moderators here help to keep the place in check! 

Anyway for those who want to know more I think if you do a search on Facebook for "unauthorized stock usage" some posts should appear.  But I agree that this is a very public place as opposed to a private group so maybe it is not the best idea to put forth all the information here.

Good heavens, Melody, we don't just ban folks. Getting banned takes a lot of effort. There's no danger of that, really.

To be clear, if you had used your own words to describe the situation, the text of your OP probably would have been only lightly edited. The reliance on a quotation that no one can go read firsthand, due to the lack of a link, was the main problem there. If you'd like to edit your OP to include a better description of what this designer is accused of doing -- the techniques they seem to be using to create their illustrations, where they seem to be sourcing images from, why it seems likely the images were used without permission, etc. -- that'd be fine. I tried to give some indication in my little note up there, but you have the design vocabulary to describe what's going on.

Regarding the images, yes, they're helpful for those of us who are design laypeople trying to understand this. But the authors who published these books may be held legally responsible for infringing one or more copyrights. It's ... well, I'd be pretty darned scared, if I'd been placed in a position like that. Given the situation, it worries me to be posting the covers, attached to evidence of infringement, in a public space. I think the affected authors should be able to make the choice to share that material themselves, if they want to. I really don't want to make things worse for these people. That's why having the images up here seems unwise to me.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2018, 09:13:59 AM »
It's always good to ask for the working file in layers or to at least ask for a snapshot of the process. I'm sure that the artist wouldn't oppose this since it just takes a few extra seconds.

First of all, a lot of stock licenses prohibit the designer turning over the layered files to clients. And second, in this case it wouldnt have helped, because the infringer didnt just steal one image, she stole several and used them as stock. So there would have been layers anyway.
     

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2018, 09:35:09 AM »
First of all, a lot of stock licenses prohibit the designer turning over the layered files to clients. And second, in this case it wouldnt have helped, because the infringer didnt just steal one image, she stole several and used them as stock. So there would have been layers anyway.

I guess I was thinking like a real designer, not one that uses stock images. As far as your claim of the stock licenses goes, that's not correct. If you buy a stock and you use it to make a certain image you can use it as many time as you want for that particular image that includes handing over the files, large companies do it all the time. It makes no sense that licensors would prohibit the use of their stock like that. And lastly  having seen the layers will assure the client that the designer actually did the work, not just grabbed an image and make it "pretty."

I'd go a step further, I'd buy the stock image in the name of the client and send them the image along with the working files.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2018, 09:43:09 AM »
large companies do it all the time.

As a person who works in contract packaging for a large company, this is not true. The typical license used by indies is NOT the same license used by corporations. A license is specific to the person/entity who purchased it. Many of those licenses have specific clauses that prohibit the transfer of the license to another person or the resale of the image itself.

Each stock art company has their own license terms. Few of them allow the transfer of the license to another person. Many of them have restrictions on the number of impressions/prints that can be used.

I do agree that the best course of action is to have the customer buy the license, and then you do the work for them and return it to them.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2018, 09:45:39 AM »
I do agree that the best course of action is to have the customer buy the license, and then you do the work for them and return it to them.

I'm glad we agree on something. :D

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2018, 09:45:50 AM »
I guess I was thinking like a real designer, not one that uses stock images. As far as your claim of the stock licenses goes, that's not correct. If you buy a stock and you use it to make a certain image you can use it as many time as you want for that particular image that includes handing over the files, large companies do it all the time. It makes no sense that licensors would prohibit the use of their stock like that. And lastly  having seen the layers will assure the client that the designer actually did the work, not just grabbed an image and make it "pretty."

I'd go a step further, I'd buy the stock image in the name of the client and send them the image along with the working files.

Plenty of real designers use stock images. But thanks for the insult.

The site I use prohibits handing over files that would allow the stock to be extracted in their original form. And of course it makes sense - if the stock is able to be extracted from the layered file, it can be used by anyone for anything, as many times as they want, and the photographer only got paid once for it.

If the client wants the image, they can buy it. But if the designer licenses it, its in the designers name.

And as I said, the stolen images were used as stock. So there were many stolen pieces and then stuff painted on top to make everything fit together. So there would have been loads of layers to make lay people think  that the designer did the work.
     

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2018, 09:55:12 AM »

If the client wants the image, they can buy it. But if the designer licenses it, its in the designers name.


I see you have a subscription! That makes sense, that you would grab images from the site and use them to make covers. I was thinking the other way around, that the designer would do everything else first before using stock images.  ;)

Sorry, you caught that, "real" thing, I was just responding to the way you responded to me.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2018, 10:17:40 AM »


This is an example of what can happen. It was a long time ago, but this artwork got through and was used on the cover of TV Guide!

I don't know what price range all cover artists are selling at. I do know that a cover "from scratch" (painted entirely from their imaginationno referencing any other photos, stock images, etc) requires that an artist be VERY skilled. With such skill usually comes a higher price. How much higher, I cannot say, because some artists severely underprice their work, especially when they're starting out. I'd consider a cover for several hundred dollars to be still pretty low-priced for a "from scratch" cover, assuming the author gets full rights to the art.

I saw the original images that we're talking about (before they were taken down). They were very detailed and looked very sophisticated. Some looked like a combo photo manipulation and "painting" but some might mistake them for "from scratch" digital painting. Had they been totally original, they would be underpriced if sold for several hundred dollars.

A lot of artists do use stock photos (in an approved, ethical way). Some artists use places like posespace.com and then modify the poses to fit the cover concept. (This is perfectly legit.)

A good thing to do is to ask all these questions beforehand.

Honestly, an entirely "from scratch" cover (meaning no references, no stock photos of any kind) requires a very skilled artist, especially if the art is highly detailed or looks kind of "photographic." Ask for verification, works in progress shots (they don't have to be the actual layered image) and so forth. Maybe see if the artist has a website where they show pencil sketches or drawings they did in a local life drawing class. Many artists at that level of skill will post their "studies" and side projects. If they have those kinds of artworks to show, the odds are higher they are the real deal.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 10:20:58 AM by celadon »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2018, 10:23:39 AM »
Things like this are what scare me.  I'm still new to this and have started shopping around for covers.  Currently, I'm looking into premades since they are cheaper and I've been using Kboards to vet designers.

I usually agree with the moderation on these forums, but in this case, I think the link to that cover designer (or his/her name) should be made public. This is not about shaming someone, but warning authors. As a "cautionary tale", this thread is useless to me. I am design-stupid, this is WHY I hire other people to design covers for me. I cannot tell if an image is kosher or not. I rely on 100% trust and contracts (but people have been known to break both), so knowing which designers are not to be trusted would be a great help.

I'm the same.  I saw the covers before they were removed too and I frankly couldn't see it even with the images next to each other until I stared at them for a while.  There is no way I would be able to make decent covers myself so I'm leaving it people who have the experience and trust them.

If you are contracting someone to create custom art, the contract should already include a disclaimer regarding rights and a requirement for licensing information if stock images are being used. The contract should clearly explain who owns the final image, what rights are being conferred to whom, and any restrictions on the images use.

I would strongly suggest that, if you are getting any sort of custom art done (whether original or stock manipulation), you should be getting an actual contract. If for no other reason that to cover your butt when stuff like this happens. It doesn't need to be a twelve page tome, but it should, at a minimum, spell out exactly what rights you are purchases, any restrictions on the final image, and the licensing information for the image.

A contract won't stop someone who is working unethically. But it provides your business with a certain level of protection. If there is a question, you have an actual contract AND copy of the license to show as evidence that you were acting with due diligence and in good faith. Due diligence and good faith are still a legal protections that can mitigate your personal liabilities in a copyright issue. Particularly if the courts have to determine statutory damages. If you are found to have willfully violated a copyright, the statutory awards up to $150,000 per use. An accidental infringer, however (i.e. you can prove you had no reason to believe you were in violation) can be only $200 per use.

But just having a receipt from ABCAnybody Dude on Fiverr who may be living in East Whotheheckknowswhere is not going to be much of a protection that you were showing due diligence and acting in good faith.

Now that paranoia is getting to me and you seem to know a lot more, would you be able to answer a couple of questions even if they sound silly?  Does this apply for premades?  It's not exactly the same, but do you still ask for a contract or proof?  For a contract, did you create a standard one that you modified based on who you worked with or do you create a new one?  Or maybe you can point me to sample contracts that I should look at?

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2018, 10:29:44 AM »
I see you have a subscription! That makes sense, that you would grab images from the site and use them to make covers. I was thinking the other way around, that the designer would do everything else first before using stock images.  ;)

Sorry, you caught that, "real" thing, I was just responding to the way you responded to me.

It doesnt make a lot of sense to get too detailed with an idea without first knowing if you can get the stock to make it work. Some stock is extremely difficult to find.

I do tend to notice insults aimed my way, yes. But I didnt mean for there to be any insult aimed at you with my first comment. Im very tired, and very frustrated with once again seeing one bad actor manage to screw over my friends and tar all designers with the same brush in one go, and I realize that my frustration with that bled over into my tone with you. I meant no offence, and I apologize.
     

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #50 on: July 11, 2018, 10:45:45 AM »


This is an example of what can happen. It was a long time ago, but this artwork got through and was used on the cover of TV Guide!

I don't know what price range all cover artists are selling at. I do know that a cover "from scratch" (painted entirely from their imaginationno referencing any other photos, stock images, etc) requires that an artist be VERY skilled. With such skill usually comes a higher price. How much higher, I cannot say, because some artists severely underprice their work, especially when they're starting out. I'd consider a cover for several hundred dollars to be still pretty low-priced for a "from scratch" cover, assuming the author gets full rights to the art.

I saw the original images that we're talking about (before they were taken down). They were very detailed and looked very sophisticated. Some looked like a combo photo manipulation and "painting" but some might mistake them for "from scratch" digital painting. Had they been totally original, they would be underpriced if sold for several hundred dollars.

A lot of artists do use stock photos (in an approved, ethical way). Some artists use places like posespace.com and then modify the poses to fit the cover concept. (This is perfectly legit.)

A good thing to do is to ask all these questions beforehand.

Honestly, an entirely "from scratch" cover (meaning no references, no stock photos of any kind) requires a very skilled artist, especially if the art is highly detailed or looks kind of "photographic." Ask for verification, works in progress shots (they don't have to be the actual layered image) and so forth. Maybe see if the artist has a website where they show pencil sketches or drawings they did in a local life drawing class. Many artists at that level of skill will post their "studies" and side projects. If they have those kinds of artworks to show, the odds are higher they are the real deal.


Thanks for shoving me down into that rabbit hole.  ;D

A fascinating history of pre-photoshop manipulation of photographs. I didn't realize that some iconic images of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others were sliced and diced from different photographs/people and that was done in the 19th Century.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/oprahs-head-ann-margarets-body-a-brief-history-of-pre-photoshop-fakery/258369/


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2018, 10:53:36 AM »
Things like this are what scare me.  I'm still new to this and have started shopping around for covers.  Currently, I'm looking into premades since they are cheaper and I've been using Kboards to vet designers.

I'm the same.  I saw the covers before they were removed too and I frankly couldn't see it even with the images next to each other until I stared at them for a while.  There is no way I would be able to make decent covers myself so I'm leaving it people who have the experience and trust them.

Now that paranoia is getting to me and you seem to know a lot more, would you be able to answer a couple of questions even if they sound silly?  Does this apply for premades?  It's not exactly the same, but do you still ask for a contract or proof?  For a contract, did you create a standard one that you modified based on who you worked with or do you create a new one?  Or maybe you can point me to sample contracts that I should look at?

A reputable designer will show you the licenses for the major pieces of stock they used in any premades. (Theyll usually have more minor resources that theyve purchased, like brushes and overlays, that can be used on different projects without needing to be individually licensed for each thing.) Dont be afraid to ask.
     

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2018, 10:59:25 AM »
One suggestion I haven't seen mentioned here is to find artists through DeviantArt and Artstation. Many of the self-published authors in the more anime-esque book genres (LitRPG, light novels, harems) find authors from these two sites. Most book covers can go for $60-$300, with very, very few ever going over that amount. There is never really any doubt on ownership because they post all their old works online, have them open to comments, etc. It's not a closed off ecosystem like you'd find in an artist's own website.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #53 on: July 11, 2018, 11:23:34 AM »
One suggestion I haven't seen mentioned here is to find artists through DeviantArt and Artstation. Many of the self-published authors in the more anime-esque book genres (LitRPG, light novels, harems) find authors from these two sites. Most book covers can go for $60-$300, with very, very few ever going over that amount. There is never really any doubt on ownership because they post all their old works online, have them open to comments, etc. It's not a closed off ecosystem like you'd find in an artist's own website.

Yeah, I found an artist on DeviantArt for anime style, but I think the risk of copying for this genre is smaller.

That said, I do think that an artist who does amazing digital art (or even crappy digital art) will have a portfolio at DA or Artstation, and the artist usually has a style that's recognizable throughout the work. I also think that an artist would think twice before posting copied material on a site like that. So a portfolio for original, from scratch art, is a must.

That said, for realistic digital art, they often use some kind of base image, and that's when asking the right questions might make a difference. I can see how some artists could be confused about copyright because some of them start with fanart. I know it's not the case with the designer mentioned by the OP, but it could be the case with other artists, especially if they don't do much commercial work. I think questions about their process are perfectly valid. I would never have considered asking them until now.


On another topic, one thing that I don't like about this story is the finger pointing at freelance websites. Geez, a freelance website that's not at all involved in this gets mentioned back and forth. Why?

And the post copied by the OP states that the freelance website where this designer offers her services "doesn't care".  As far as I know this has only found out yesterday, so we can't know if they care or not.

I also know a couple reputable designers that get work through that site, and it's just nasty to drag them all down. It's just a site, a platform. People could cheat on their own website too.

A few months ago I heard about a designer copying designs. She had a Facebook group. Shall we point our fingers at Facebook as well?




Offline Mr. Sparkle

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #54 on: July 11, 2018, 12:09:13 PM »
If posting images that explain how to spot the plagiarism are not allowed, I fail to see to how linking to them as an alternative is going to make the forum liable for anything. That's not how links work.

The victims are not named in this public FB post. The link to the cover artist is removed from that post, AFAIK. It's basically a resource now of how to spot similarities in images and to be wary of different drawing styles within a cover.


On a broader note:
I get that the mods want to be cautious. What I would suggest is that there be a sub-forum here that requires registered users and is not indexed in search engines, or a link to another site if that's not feasible.

People have pointed out that search results pull KBoards up frequently with indie publishing related questions. If the intention is to actually provide helpful information -- and often what is most helpful is not "risk-free" -- then it would be better to point them in the direction where they can find that help.

Even a pop-up banner on threads that are heavily trafficked or modded saying "we have removed unverified content; here are public forums where you can also discuss this issue" would suffice. No joke. Let people try and sue Reddit or Facebook.

New writers don't have the kind of insider information or access to private friend groups to find out about problems. These issues aren't big enough or serious enough to large newspapers to send them tips like you would with sexual harassment or child abuse or bank fraud. The only recourse many have is to guard themselves with publicly shared information.
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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #55 on: July 11, 2018, 01:28:54 PM »
I do agree that the best course of action is to have the customer buy the license, and then you do the work for them and return it to them.
That isn't always as easy as it sounds. Shutterstock changed their terms a few months back in a way that seems aimed at preventing exactly that from happening. Unless one has a team license (which is doubtless more expensive), the license covers use by one natural person. If someone else, like a cover designer, is involved, then a team license is required.

(Yes, I know--this is annoying.)


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #56 on: July 11, 2018, 01:32:57 PM »
A couple of things:

1. I had paid for covers with this artist. Since it was through a freelance site, I made one phone call and had my money refunded with zero problems. I think it was a 3-5 minute phone call. It honestly makes me want to use that site for all my work with designers. The site holds the money in escrow and only releases it to the designer when the project is delivered. If this wasn't through a freelance site, I have little faith that I'd have gotten my money back.

2. DeviantArt. I LOVE Deviantart, and it is possible to find artists there, but I think there's also a high risk of running into licensing issues simply because DeviantArt is used by a lot of amateur artists who do fanart. Nothing wrong with that (I can happily spend a day scrolling through their art), but they may not understand licensing and what's involved when doing commercial work.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #57 on: July 11, 2018, 04:40:35 PM »

2. DeviantArt. I LOVE Deviantart, and it is possible to find artists there, but I think there's also a high risk of running into licensing issues simply because DeviantArt is used by a lot of amateur artists who do fanart. Nothing wrong with that (I can happily spend a day scrolling through their art), but they may not understand licensing and what's involved when doing commercial work.
THIS.

I wouldn't assume that someone with a DeviantArt portfolio is good to go. There are a ton of anime artists there and that style often has its roots in fan art. I love DeviantArt, and there are a combo of serious fine artists, photographers, illustrators there, but by far the largest majority is anime fan art.

Anime is popular with kids and those doing fan art. Some of them grow up and become more skilled but will remain unclear on copyright issues.

Usually, art school or some sort of professional training pulls the artist away from doing exclusively anime art. The ones who only do anime (have no other style they're good at) may not have had that training and education yet. Some of these artists are amazing, but who knows what their awareness of copyright is? They may think they know but yet not know.


« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 04:44:42 PM by celadon »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #58 on: July 11, 2018, 06:12:26 PM »
But laying out other people's allegedly copyright-infringing book covers on a heavily trafficked public forum, perhaps deepening those authors' legal risk? No.

Just as a matter of interest, how is this different to all the copyright infringing images and gifs posted here? Most of them are from movies, without permission to use the image.

Why are they ok?

The mods obviously think there is a line here, but given Facebook made posting copyright infringing material normal, and most young people have no idea they are doing so, and don't care anyway, I don't see any real difference here. On the one hand, we have threads full of copyrighted material being illegally used, and on the other, we have deliberate cover making infringement. Why delete one set, and leave the others? The forum is already legally exposed, should any movie maker want to make an issue of it. And I'd think the movie makers are much more likely to have the money to throw at copyright law suits, than the owners of stock images do.

What I see here is an illegal forest, but only the pink trees are causing people to pause and wonder if they will get sued.



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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #59 on: July 11, 2018, 08:21:33 PM »
 :(
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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #60 on: July 11, 2018, 08:26:42 PM »
Just as a matter of interest, how is this different to all the copyright infringing images and gifs posted here? Most of them are from movies, without permission to use the image.

Why are they ok?

The mods obviously think there is a line here, but given Facebook made posting copyright infringing material normal, and most young people have no idea they are doing so, and don't care anyway, I don't see any real difference here. On the one hand, we have threads full of copyrighted material being illegally used, and on the other, we have deliberate cover making infringement. Why delete one set, and leave the others? The forum is already legally exposed, should any movie maker want to make an issue of it. And I'd think the movie makers are much more likely to have the money to throw at copyright law suits, than the owners of stock images do.

What I see here is an illegal forest, but only the pink trees are causing people to pause and wonder if they will get sued.




Please note, I am not a lawyer.

Having said that, there's a difference between personal and commercial use and while posting memes and GIFs may involve copyrighted materials used without permission, the game changes the moment you start asking for money.

Book covers are commercial use, and that's what really brings out the lawyers.

Also, I used a certain low-cost freelance site to find the artist who does my covers. Having said that, I do all my own preliminary sketches, and have him work from that and since they aren't photorealistic that helps too.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #61 on: July 11, 2018, 08:49:22 PM »
Just as a matter of interest, how is this different to all the copyright infringing images and gifs posted here? Most of them are from movies, without permission to use the image.

Why are they ok?

The mods obviously think there is a line here, but given Facebook made posting copyright infringing material normal, and most young people have no idea they are doing so, and don't care anyway, I don't see any real difference here. On the one hand, we have threads full of copyrighted material being illegally used, and on the other, we have deliberate cover making infringement. Why delete one set, and leave the others? The forum is already legally exposed, should any movie maker want to make an issue of it. And I'd think the movie makers are much more likely to have the money to throw at copyright law suits, than the owners of stock images do.

What I see here is an illegal forest, but only the pink trees are causing people to pause and wonder if they will get sued.

I think the key word in Becca's post is *ALLEGEDLY*.

She can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think her point was that the cover images themselves broke the law (although it is possible that they do). Her point was that the original poster, without personal experience, was *claiming* that those cover images broke the law, which could put the relevant authors' livelihoods and reputations at risk, on the basis of mere hearsay.

[BTW: I'm just paraphrasing what I think Becca was saying. I personally appreciate this thread.]
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 09:33:57 AM by SalomeGolding »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #62 on: July 11, 2018, 09:52:20 PM »
Thanks for shoving me down into that rabbit hole.  ;D

A fascinating history of pre-photoshop manipulation of photographs. I didn't realize that some iconic images of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others were sliced and diced from different photographs/people and that was done in the 19th Century.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/oprahs-head-ann-margarets-body-a-brief-history-of-pre-photoshop-fakery/258369/

The photography class we had in high school was all film and darkroom. It was way outdated, but really cool at the same time. The teacher was a retired photographer, and he showed us how to dodge, burn, combine images and all that kind of thing without a computer.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #63 on: July 12, 2018, 12:27:08 AM »
Just as a matter of interest, how is this different to all the copyright infringing images and gifs posted here? Most of them are from movies, without permission to use the image.

Why are they ok?

The mods obviously think there is a line here, but given Facebook made posting copyright infringing material normal, and most young people have no idea they are doing so, and don't care anyway, I don't see any real difference here. On the one hand, we have threads full of copyrighted material being illegally used, and on the other, we have deliberate cover making infringement. Why delete one set, and leave the others? The forum is already legally exposed, should any movie maker want to make an issue of it. And I'd think the movie makers are much more likely to have the money to throw at copyright law suits, than the owners of stock images do.

What I see here is an illegal forest, but only the pink trees are causing people to pause and wonder if they will get sued.




Well the images are in public all over FB - like I said - for those who are still wondering about this - just post "unauthorized stock usage" into Facebook's search box and you will find posts with the images - public posts not private ones in private groups, and not my posts either!  You can find the designer's info there too, in some of the comments.

I also did not post anyone's covers with names and titles here - it was only the images.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 12:35:54 AM by Melody Simmons »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #64 on: July 12, 2018, 09:48:39 AM »
The photography class we had in high school was all film and darkroom. It was way outdated, but really cool at the same time. The teacher was a retired photographer, and he showed us how to dodge, burn, combine images and all that kind of thing without a computer.
I took a photography class back in college in the late 80s. I thought an easy credit. I was wrong. You had to be like a chemist to develop a photograph.


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #65 on: July 12, 2018, 09:59:48 AM »
2. DeviantArt. I LOVE Deviantart, and it is possible to find artists there, but I think there's also a high risk of running into licensing issues simply because DeviantArt is used by a lot of amateur artists who do fanart. Nothing wrong with that (I can happily spend a day scrolling through their art), but they may not understand licensing and what's involved when doing commercial work.
You're more likely to find professional artists at Artstation. Though with the higher skill level comes higher cost.


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #66 on: July 12, 2018, 10:15:11 AM »
Just as a matter of interest, how is this different to all the copyright infringing images and gifs posted here? Most of them are from movies, without permission to use the image.

Why are they ok?

The mods obviously think there is a line here, but given Facebook made posting copyright infringing material normal, and most young people have no idea they are doing so, and don't care anyway, I don't see any real difference here. On the one hand, we have threads full of copyrighted material being illegally used, and on the other, we have deliberate cover making infringement. Why delete one set, and leave the others? The forum is already legally exposed, should any movie maker want to make an issue of it. And I'd think the movie makers are much more likely to have the money to throw at copyright law suits, than the owners of stock images do.

What I see here is an illegal forest, but only the pink trees are causing people to pause and wonder if they will get sued.
As DCRWrites suggests, context is everything. I'm not entirely happy with the extent to which copyrighted material is thrown around without permission, mostly because my teaching background tells me it gives students the wrong idea. However, if the use isn't commercial, doesn't reduce the commercial value of the work in the same way, and is not offensive to the copyright holder, it's very unlikely anyone is going to be upset.

If I were a studio exec and saw a frame from one of my movies becoming a popular meme, I'd most likely be happy about it. Again assuming the use is not offensive, it could function as free advertising. In one case, a guy who became a popular meme ended up with an acting career. The guy from the angry baby meme got enough celebrity out of it to fundraise for something--I want to say cancer treatment for one of his parents. You don't hear them complaining, though hypothetically privacy issues might have been a legal concern.

Fan fiction is the same way. Technically, almost all of it is infringement, as permission is hardly ever sought. However, it is generally regarded as a positive activity within fan communities. Loving something enough to create your own artistic response is a pretty high level of fandom. Warner Bros, not understanding that, early on started sending cease-and-desist letters to Harry Potter fanfic writers and sites. Cooler heads prevailed, and the letters soon stopped.

When Five Seconds of Summer released the song, "She Looks So Perfect," it apparently didn't talk to American Apparel about the use of its trademarked name in the lyrics. (You would have thought it would have--the context isn't negative, but is is sexually charged. American Apparel's response: "'We're flattered anytime we're mentioned in someone's music or artespecially a big summer anthem like this,' a rep for American Apparel told Fuse. 'Naturally, we also think women look great in our underwear.'" https://www.fuse.tv/2014/06/5-seconds-summer-she-looks-so-perfect-american-apparel-response

As Julie will doubtless point out if I forget to, these examples shouldn't inspire us to neglect appropriate caution in using copyrighted material and trademarks in accordance with the law. However, they do illustrate that a lot of rights holders are indifferent to or even happy about the use, particularly if it's non-commercial and/or seems to actually promote the rights holders' interests.


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #67 on: July 12, 2018, 11:40:30 AM »
I'm curious. Who and how did anyone discover this? I never would've figured it or linked those images together. Sure, there are obvious similarities, but I still wouldn't have put it together.  LOL


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #68 on: July 12, 2018, 12:35:05 PM »
I'm curious. Who and how did anyone discover this? I never would've figured it or linked those images together. Sure, there are obvious similarities, but I still wouldn't have put it together.  LOL



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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #69 on: July 12, 2018, 12:37:52 PM »
The FBCI - Federal Bureau of Cover Investigation.  No actually, I have no idea.
LOL That's funny!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 12:44:33 PM by SA_Soule »

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2018, 12:38:48 PM »
I'm curious. Who and how did anyone discover this? I never would've figured it or linked those images together. Sure, there are obvious similarities, but I still wouldn't have put it together.  LOL


Just like folks that pick up when Book B plagiarized Book A. It's usually a keen-eyed reader that catches it and exposes it.


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #71 on: July 12, 2018, 12:46:25 PM »
Thank you for this thread, Melody Simmons. Eye-opening. Something to pay attention to for sure.
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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #72 on: July 12, 2018, 12:55:02 PM »
I'm curious. Who and how did anyone discover this? I never would've figured it or linked those images together. Sure, there are obvious similarities, but I still wouldn't have put it together.  LOL



I believe the original artist who noticed it was friends with some of the other artists whose work was used and so recognized their work. (Her post was linked to from the discussion in the Author Support Network which is where I saw this mentioned originally.)


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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #73 on: July 13, 2018, 12:39:48 PM »

As Julie will doubtless point out if I forget to, these examples shouldn't inspire us to neglect appropriate caution in using copyrighted material and trademarks in accordance with the law. However, they do illustrate that a lot of rights holders are indifferent to or even happy about the use, particularly if it's non-commercial and/or seems to actually promote the rights holders' interests.
Great post!

What I've been led to understand is, that in order to sue and win damages, you have to prove that the unauthorized use took money away from you in some way. Or that the unauthorized use made money for them in some way and because they made money, they owe it to you. (Because it wasn't their money to make, if you understand.)

You can always get someone to take down the infringing work, but to sue and make them pay? You have to show that they've picked your pocket or damaged you somehow.

Someone posting a movie meme isn't taking money away from the movie makers. In fact, I just looked up the meaning behind a popular meme, realized it was to a particular movie that I haven't seen yet, and now I'd like to see that movie. I'll be renting it or buying it. Something I wouldn't be doing without that meme.

Someone ripping off elements to someone else's artwork in order to profit from it is them making money that should go to the person whose work was ripped off.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #74 on: July 16, 2018, 05:53:42 AM »
What I've been led to understand is, that in order to sue and win damages, you have to prove that the unauthorized use took money away from you in some way. Or that the unauthorized use made money for them in some way and because they made money, they owe it to you. (Because it wasn't their money to make, if you understand.)

You do not have to prove actual damages. Copyright law allows for statutory damages. If you see my earlier post regarding the importance of getting an actual contract, I discussed this.

If you do NOT register your copyright, you cannot sue for statutory damages, but you can still sue for actual damages. And you can sue to have the infringing material removed.

If you have registered your copyright, you can sue for statutory damages. If you are found to have willfully infringed, it can be thousands of dollars PER INFRINGEMENT. If, on the other hand, the infringement is considered inadvertent, the damages are reduced to $200 per infringement.

In regards to why you see copyright material all over FB but KB is removing images:

FB has no actual obligation to actively police images. The law only requires them to act if they get a DMCA. Because the actual copyright holder has final say regarding how their copyright material is used. If the copyright holder doesn't care or is indifferent to their work appearing in memes, that is their right to let it be used that way. if the copyright holder doesn't want the work used that way, that is their right and they can send a DMCA notice to FB to have it removed.

In this specific case, due to the fact that there is currently potential legal actions being taken. the mods felt it prudent to not inadvertently hard the affected authors by allowing the images to be shared here. Because of the risk of increasing the statutory charges, if the actual copyright holder decides to sue for statutory damages, each infringement (including the images appearing here!) can add up to thousands of dollars in charges. While KB had no legal reason to remove the images without first getting a DMCA, because this is a writer-centric forum the mods proactively moved to protect impacted authors and mitigate their risks.

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #75 on: July 16, 2018, 08:43:46 AM »

A fascinating history of pre-photoshop manipulation of photographs. I didn't realize that some iconic images of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others were sliced and diced from different photographs/people and that was done in the 19th Century.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/oprahs-head-ann-margarets-body-a-brief-history-of-pre-photoshop-fakery/258369/

Anyone remember the saying, 'the camera doesn't lie?'  ::)

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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #76 on: July 16, 2018, 02:38:30 PM »
Anyone remember the saying, 'the camera doesn't lie?'  ::)

Well, technically, the camera doesn't lie.  It's people who manipulate photos.
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Re: Authors Beware - Popular cover designs with stolen images
« Reply #77 on: July 16, 2018, 04:44:56 PM »
A reputable designer will show you the licenses for the major pieces of stock they used in any premades. (Theyll usually have more minor resources that theyve purchased, like brushes and overlays, that can be used on different projects without needing to be individually licensed for each thing.) Dont be afraid to ask.
THIS!
If your designer doesn't offer licensing info on primary stock images (which they should), don't hesitate to ask. It's the best way to prevent possible shenanigans. Generally, even if a client has their own art, I'll ask for proof of the rights info and model releases if there are any people in the image. Once, I actually had a company suggest I collage celebrities' heads onto the models in their catalog, because "it would be cute". Sadly, too many people still believe that online means public domain. Please protect yourselves. 
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