A Prog Rock law suit? Roger Dean says “Yes!”
[Author’s Note: since this post this matter has come to a conclusion about which you can read here.]
The odds are that you have seen the 2009 James Cameron movie Avatar as it is, I understand, the highest grossing movie of all time. Well, for progressive rock fans the world over, especially fans of the premier prog-rock band Yes, who saw the film, there were things that were surprisingly familiar with the imagery and graphics in it. As it happens, Roger Dean, the cover artist for prog-rock bands like Yes, Asia, Uriah Heep, and Birdsongs of the Messazoic (among others), thought so as well! Dean thought the images were so similar that he has filed an intellectual property law suit against James Cameron for, more-or-less, stealing his images for the movie.
I bumped into Dean at the August 3, 2013 Yestival and attempted to ask him about the law suit. Unfortunately he said that he was not at liberty to talk about it at this time, but I will be following the case closely and hopefully, at a future prog-rock festival, Dean will be a little more forthcoming. Be sure to check this blog in the future for any updates on this case.
I did notice that at Dean’s art gallery at the Yestival, he showcased the material that seemed most Avatar-like and some of the people browsing around did comment on the similarity between the paintings and the movie. Coincidence? Who knows. Does this prove Dean’s point? Maybe.
This is not the first time that Dean’s work has been used in film. The Star Wars prequel trilogy made subtle use of Dean’s imagery and the sci-fi spoof movie Galaxy Quest completely ripped off Dean’s work onYessongs (this has been confirmed on the IMDB trivia site here): compare for yourself, click here for the Yessongs image and here for the Galaxy Quest image. The difference, it would appear, is that these other film received Dean’s permission to use the images and/or use his images as direct inspiration. Cameron and his team of movie makers evidently did not do this.
What do you think? Do the images in Avatar look so much like Dean’s images to warrant the law suit? Here are some examples for you to check out:
From the movie:
Some of Dean’s work: