Locutus of Bored wrote:
If there had simply been floating mountains, giant lopsided trees, and colorful dragons in the film and no public acknowledgement that Dean was a muse for the art staff on the film, then he wouldn't have much a of leg to stand on. But that's apparently not all that happened. If you can acknowledge that he inspired your work, you can give credit where credit is due on the final product.
No one is disputing Dean was an inspiration, but that doesn't in of itself equate to theft. Lots of recording artists were no doubt inspired by Cher's overt use of auto-tune on "Believe"; is every subsequent T-Pain obligated to give a cut of their own works if they happen to acknowledge a public inspiration? Hasn't Joss Whedon said that Star Wars
and Han Solo were significant influences on Firefly
? Does that mean he owes ol' George a Maserati?
Also, the notion of a floating island apparently goes all the way back to Homer
. So Dean didn't come up with floating islands, or the tropical look of Pandora's flora, and I have no idea if he even came up with the idea of mixing the two, or if he was "inspired" by other fantasy artists doing similar stuff.
If Dean wants to market himself or his work as an acknowledged "inspiration to Avatar
", surely no one could hold that against him. And maybe he should have gotten a shout-out in the credits or some such, but I'm extremely wary of calling even overt inspiration "theft" in a legal sense.