The story begins with Kate Hawkins, author of the work The Sphinx Project. She's a self-published indie author and as such, knew that she'd have to do a little something extra to appeal to the reader and chose to use an artist from Amazon's kindle boards to give her book a kickass cover. And kickass it is.
Covers can make a huge difference when it comes to independently and self-published books, after all. Hawkins paid for this with her own money and arranged to have exclusive rights to the cover artwork. Pretty straight forward.
Later on Hawkins got a message asking if she'd gotten exclusive rights to the cover, which lead her to discover that another author was using the artwork for their cover. Hawkins emailed the artist, who assured her that she hadn't given the artwork to anyone else and that Hawkins was the only person who was supposed to use the artwork. Which means one of two things: either the artist lied or the other author stole the artwork. I'm going to go with the theory that the author just saw the artwork and decided to use it, which is also Hawkins's theory.
Sad enough, this is actually a little common when it comes to book covers and the internet. I remember seeing images used for book covers when they weren't actually the license holders. Sometimes it was the authors who did this, sometimes it was a publisher who figured they just wouldn't get caught. I remember a few years ago one author was told that her fantasy cover was taken from an artist who had not given permission for his work to be used, then hearing that the publisher she was going through was swiping artwork from various sites to use for their books. I wish I could remember the name of the publisher, but it was a very, very small indie "no name" publisher.
So what to do in this situation? Well, even if we knew the name of the author that stole the artwork there's not much we could do for Hawkins. The legal fight over the artwork will be something she has to go alone, if she chooses to go that route.
What we can do for her is to spread the word about her book and give her some great hype.
Hawkins is currently doing a giveaway on Goodreads, so go show your support by adding it to your lists, signing up for the giveaway, and if you like what you see, give the book a read. I'll be linking to some sites that you can purchase the book through at the bottom of this blog as well as to Hawkins's blog.