Artist Roger Dean sues Avatar’s James Cameron for “wilful and deliberate copying and exploitation”

Artist seeks legal action against director because similarities between his work and the film are "substantial, continuing, and direct"

Avatar might have received its accolades, but there are still plenty of people trying to bring James Cameron down for the innovative film.


The American award-winning director of the sci-fi story of love and war can tack on one more person mad about his successes — British artist Roger Dean formally filed a legal action against Cameron in a New York court last week. The artist is suing for $50m, or £33m, for what he claims as “wilful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation” of several of his original works. 

Dean, who has designed album covers for rock bands such as Yes and Asia, said in his legal papers that Cameron “studied and referenced his art in preparation for the film.” Specifically, he draws comparisons between Avatar’s Home Tree and his own works called Tree of Life, Pathway and Floating Jungles.

“The similarities of each such work are substantial, continuing, and direct so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre,” Dean said in the papers.

Cameron, on the other hand, must be used to this kind of thing. Dean’s case is the second legal action Cameron is facing for Avatar at this time. In March, screenwriter Bryant Morre claimed sections of two scripts sent to Cameron’s company were used in the film without his notice. No sweat though, since Cameron won two separate judgments against similar accusations back in 2012.

Avatar was released in 2009 to rave reviews about its use of advanced 3D technology. In 2010, it was nominated for nine Oscars and won three Academy Awards for best art direction, best cinematography and best visual effects. The highest grossing film of all time already has two sequels in the works for December 2014 and 2015, as well as themed attractions at Disney World. 


Cameron has publicly announced that he first conceptualized the idea for Avatar back in 1995. “We will not back off the throttle of Avatar’s visual and emotional horse-power,” he said.