A while back, I shared a song to a friend, who upon seeing the video's thumbnail, immediately asked me whether the band had ripped off the cover of Jean Rabe's Red Magic (1991), the third novel in the Forgotten Realms: The Harpers books.

The song was taken from the album "Frozen Sky" (2005) by Conquest, now know as W. Angel's Conquest, a relatively unknown power metal band from Ukraine. Here's a link to the album playlist on YouTube.

When putting the two covers side-by-side, there's no denying that the wizard is the exact same one.

book cover and album cover

I have not read the book (nor do I know much about Forgotten Realms, for that matter), but I'm curious as to whether the use of that book cover was plain plagiarism or an homage.

Did the band ever comment on that, or could it be that the songs themselves refer to the book's events? Or is that wizard illustration maybe taken from somewhere else, thus being somehow right-free or something?

Research done:

  • The lyrics don't strike me as matching much of what I can gather of the book, from various reviews. Although I can't figure out what the guy is saying in the intro (timestamp);
  • The band's Facebook page didn't yield much for me, but it could have been commented on in Ukrainian. I haven't contacted the band;
  • The Forgotten Realms wiki page for the book doesn't mention the album, as far as I know;
  • Googling "red magic" "frozen sky" yields 95 results, this one being the only one seemingly relevant, with someone asking "Red Magic album art. Did they get permission to use it?", without a reply.
  • What would be the difference between plagiarism or an homage? – Adamant Nov 21 '18 at 20:16
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    @Adamant I'm not a lawyer but I'd define it as, while both of them didn't get the permission to use the cover art, the homage is a respectful nod, with references (good intentions) while plagiarism would rather err on the side of "there's this cool artwork from that 15 years old book no one talks about anymore, let's just Photoshop it into our album, no one will notice" (bad intentions). Bit cliché but you get my point... – Jenayah Nov 21 '18 at 20:26

The image in question contains two cropped and heavily re-coloured pictures composited together; 'Red Wizard' by Fred Fields and 'Tower' by Ciruelo Cabral

I've found a copy of the exterior of the CD cover which contains no credit to either artist nor a copyright tag that identifies the current licence-holders Wizards of the Coast, both of which are typically, but not always, required when you licence a picture from WotC. In addition the artist's signatures have also been obscured.

I've now spoken with both artists (via email) and I am advised that neither is aware that the pictures were correctly licensed. Both artists are making their own inquiries but I strongly suspect that the simplest explanation is that these images were used without appropriate permission.

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    Woah, this is neat research! Looking forward to their reply, if they ever do reply :D – Jenayah Nov 21 '18 at 23:33
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    @Jenayah - The thing is, without a response from the artist all we have is guesswork. For all we know, the lead singer is a personal friend of Fields and he gave him permission to edit the pic for their band's use. – Valorum Nov 21 '18 at 23:35
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    True, but in any case if the use was authorised, not crediting the author anywhere feels kind of... wrong (to me, at least). And even if there's no reply, confirmation or whatever, having the original source linked is a good thing. I'll text my friend! ;D – Jenayah Nov 21 '18 at 23:40
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    I'm not a lawyer but the earlier comment still stands, it's hard to see good intentions (or actual lack of bad intentions) when neither artists are credited... – Jenayah Nov 27 '18 at 19:33
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    @Jenayah - More to the point, it seems highly unlikely that any company would licence multiple work to allow them to be inexpertly cropped, edited and composited together. – Valorum Nov 27 '18 at 19:37

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