Bands, Don’t Rip Off Each Other’s Album Art
Earlier today, I was browsing through new releases on Bandcamp, as I am wont to do most mornings, when I discovered an exceptionally blatant case of album art plagiarism. By all accounts, it appears that Denver-based metalcore band Bleeding Diamonds straight up ganked the cover art of White Ward’s Futility Report, an album released just this year! Bands, don’t do that!
Here is the cover for Bleeding Diamonds’ I Am the Enemy (Single).
And here is the cover art for White Ward’s Futility Report.
There’s no way around this. The Bleeding Diamonds cover is clearly an exact copy of the White Ward art, which begs a further question: Is this simply a coincidence, a case of the band just finding the art and liking it enough to use it without doing much research?
Honestly, I don’t buy it.
- If you look closely at both images, the Bleeding Diamonds version clearly has a lower pixel count. The jpeg artifacts seem to indicate the band copied the image, threw it into a photo manipulation tool, and added a filter before re-uploading it, resulting in a minor loss of fidelity.
- White Ward credit the artist, Olia Pishchanska, directly on Bandcamp and on the album’s press release on the Debemur Morti website. If you look at Pishchanska’s DeviantArt page, you’ll see she has an album specifically for White Ward, so she either took the photographs explicitly for them or gave them permission to use these photographs.
- Futility Report‘s release has been fairly high-profile, as far as underground metal goes. A quick Google search shows it’s been covered on Angry Metal Guy, Metal Archives, Metal Injection, and more. We even talked about it here. If Bleeding Diamonds are metal fans, it’s unlikely this release never crossed their profile, especially considering it was released quite a bit earlier this year.
Folks, this is plagiarism, pure and simple. Is it possible that Bleeding Diamonds also received permission to use the art? Yes, but there is zero credit given to either White Ward or Olia Pishchanska on their Bandcamp page, so I find that pill a tough one to swallow. In academic circles, that’s the kind of thing that would get you expelled or your journal submission denied publication. It’s problematic because it muddies the waters for the original artist and harms the reputation of the plagiarizing artist.
Unfortunately, art plagiarism is a widespread issue in the metal world, either due to the bands themselves or due to graphic artists stealing each other’s work. Just this year Pestilence discovered their (admittedly poor) album art was plagiarized from concept art developed for another project. The blog page Sad But True exists entirely to highlight this type of intellectual and artistic thievery. Honestly, the metal community needs to do better.
So what can young artists do to avoid getting in hot water like this? There are definitely options, several of which Stephen Wilson discussed with our very site. If you’re looking for tips, check out that podcast and choose something original.
Futility Report is out now via Debemur Morti. Listen to it here.