Friday, January 13, 2017

Stealing Cover Art is Wrong, Too.

Recently, I ran across something disconcerting on Facebook (I know, I know... big surprise).  I belong to several groups for independent authors who want to post links to their books in hopes of finding new readers, etc.  On one of these groups, a person - who shall remain nameless - has been posting about their book and the cover caught my eye.  Not because it was a particularly good cover.  Nope.  The cover had the look of being homemade and the image used seemed to have been ripped off from an old crime novel. 

As you may know, I am a huge fan of old crime novels, so it wasn't hard for me to think that.  They all have a certain flavor.

So, being the sleuth, I applied my Google-fu.  I searched 'old book covers' and then the key elements of the cover in question.  Then I scrolled through the images.  Took me like five minutes to find the old cover that this author had stolen for his new book.

That rubbed my fur the wrong way, of course.  For numerous reasons which I will elaborate on later.  But I tried giving this modern-day author the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he'd contacted the original author or artist...  Umm, they both died a long time ago.  Then I thought maybe he got permission from the original publisher.  Yeah, they're no longer in business.  Or rather, they got bought out by someone who got bought out by someone who got absorbed by one of the BIG 5.  I rather seriously doubt the BIG company gave this self-published dude permission to use an image they own, no matter how long ago it was published.

Then I wondered if maybe the copyright had run out.  Umm, if I read it right, the work doesn't become public domain for like another 27 years.  (Anything before 1923 is okee dokee, but after that, not a chance.)

So, yeah, this dude ripped it off. 

Then I went to this dude's Amazon Author Page.  He's got a ton of books and almost all of them have covers that appear to have been ripped off from old pulp fiction novels.


Anyway, it kind of makes me wonder... If someone doesn't give a rat's ass about stealing cover art, how much of his work is actually written by him.  :shrug:  I am not willing to waste my time and money to find out.  I did do a quick 'look inside' on one of his books and noted three things - 1) he doesn't give credit to anyone for his cover art, and 2) he made damn sure he had all his copyright verbiage on HIS stuff while blatantly ignoring other people's copyrights, and 3) he fully admits to writing a fifth book in someone else's four book series from back in the '30s.

This pisses me off no end.  First, because it's STEALING.  Second, because self-published authors have a hard enough time struggling against the negative concept of the reading populace without this shit.  Third, because it was so obviously a hackjob of a cover.  You can still see pixels of where he erased the old cover.  He didn't even bother to hide what he'd done.  People like him make people like me look bad, and that really grinds my ass.


Anyway, not really sure what to do with this.  I thought about calling him on it publicly, but I really don't need a shitstorm raining down on me from a potential psycho or his psycho fans.  I thought about contacting the BIG publisher, but I doubt they would want to put forth the effort to go after this twerp.  So, here I sit.  Frustrated and angry and wanting to smack someone in the back of the head. 

And I can't even go fishing to drain off the negativity because the weather sucks and the fish aren't biting.  Ugh.

All I can do is the best I can do.  Stay on the legal and ethical side of things.  Try not to worry too much about shitheads like that.  And hope that readers will see the HUGE difference between morons like that and honest self-published authors. 

Peace out.


  1. You can always report him to Amazon (show them both covers). They seem to frown upon that sort of thing and might pull his books. That would hit him in his wallet. Provided he's getting any sales.

  2. Wow. I suppose you could contact Amazon with your evidence but not sure they'd really do anything, despite their TOS. *shrug* I'm convinced a lot of people just don't care anymore. Look at all the pirate sites. As you said, all we can do is create and publish the highest quality stuff, dot our i's, cross our t's, and mind our p's and q's. And hope Karma really is a bitch. Just sayin'...

  3. That grinds my gears as well. What about posting a "if you liked this, you might also like this" with a link to the old original cover.
    That said, your worries about a psycho shitstorm are real; there are any number of examples to point to. But do we let such theft go? What to do about it? As you point out, there doesn't seem to be much recourse.
    I've recently taken up photography. Some buddies were having a discussion about getting your images out there to be seen and enjoyed, but don't people worry about them being stolen? That got into a big interesting discussion of digital rights, creative works ownership in general, getting inspired by what other creative people are doing, and all sorts of related stuff. It seems the only way to enforce copyright is the Disney model, "don't mess with the mouse", threatening to sue and following up as required. That's great if you've got lots of money. It seems to leave the rest of us flapping in the wind.