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Another HarperCollins Cover Ripoff?

22 August 2011

Passive Guy received a tip about another HarperCollins book cover. It’s a Man’s World by Polly Courtney, published by Avon, an HC imprint, is available for pre-order on Amazon UK. The book cover bears more than a passing resemblance to a poster advertising a 2010 motion picture, Morning Glory.

See what you think:



To be clear, this situation differs from the previous HarperCollins cover issue in at least the following particulars:

 1. We have no smoking gun regarding any HarperCollins representative trying to buy art prior to making a copy of the poster for its cover.

2. We’re not looking at big publishing vs. an indie author and indie artist here. Paramount Pictures and/or the producers of Morning Glory can easily take care of themselves if they have a beef with HC. It’s possible HC has a license from whoever owns the copyright to the poster.

3. This isn’t book cover vs. book cover as in the prior HC dust-up.

4. The book cover may be a legitimate Independent Creation. Independent Creation is where two separate people both create the same work, or works that are substantially similar, on their own and independent of each other. Under copyright law, Independent Creation is a defense against copyright infringement.

Since the readers of this blog are intelligent people, PG won’t do an analysis of the two illustrations nor will he address the issue of whether a visual connection between Ms. Courtney’s book and a motion picture is a plus or minus for book sales.

Nor will he discuss how much Photoshop work was done on Harrison Ford’s photo for the poster.


11 Comments to “Another HarperCollins Cover Ripoff?”

  1. Completely and totally different. I mean, anybody can see from looking that the setting for the movie is a TV news program and the book takes place at the offices of a magazine. You can see that, right? Right?

    • Certainly, although, for copyright purposes, the fact that a similar design is used to advertise two different things doesn’t get you away from infringement. Trademarks, yes, copyright, no.

      If Charles Dickens were writing today and someone inserted the following into an advertisement for watches, they’d have significant legal exposure: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

  2. Open vs. closed toe, too. Open (pun intended) and shut.

  3. And neither of them are particularly good. I am no designer, but the eye just glazes over both.

    I can’t imagine the authors are thrilled, but who knows what the details of their deals are.

    Still, though.

    • They both seem pretty cliched to me.

    • Very astute observation, Genevieve.
      As the author, I am utterly appalled at the lack of originality employed by my publishers and the lazy, fall-back options to which they seem to revert with every book cover.
      Details of the deals? I’ll leave you to guess from my tone.

  4. I happen to like them, personally but then, I like an austere aesthetic. Independent creation is all well and good, but if you’re using that as a defense against a jury then the jury’s probably going to be pickier about things. I’d start looking at the details. Things like the desks both being red. the folder and the papers being in the same hands on both. she’s on a phone in both cases. I really just keep coming back to that red desk though. Unless it was red in the stock photo… who has a bright red desk/ledge thing? Yes, it’s a power color that makes the book pop… but still. The kindest I can be about this one is that the artist was unconsciously influenced by the poster.

    • Jean – Given a choice, you would have something other than independent creation to fall back on if you were sued for copyright infringement.

  5. It would be hard to argue independent creation on this. The posters were put up all over the world. You are almost bound to have seen one.

  6. There’s another interesting but more subtle connection. Note the bag of work-related items in the bag sitting on the floor in the movie poster art, then go here and see a promotion for the book that contains something the cover art does not:


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