It's pretty clear that whoever designed the four teaser posters for Disney's Solo: A Star Wars Story, drew a great deal of inspiration from the 2015 album covers designed by Hachim Bahous for Sony Music France’s Legacy Recordings.
Imitation is an inevitability, says graphic design historian Steven Heller. “If something is good, it will knocked off,” he says. “Look at I ❤ NY. Look at Coke and Pepsi. Look at the ripoffs around the world for Starbucks.”
Heller says there appears to be enough visual similarities between Balhous design and Disney’s posters to make it seem like a copy: the condensed fonts, the weathered, textured background, the color palette, and the photo treatment of characters from the movie displayed inside the letters.
But of course, Balhous isn't the first designer to fill letters with images. Quartz offers the following examples of prior art:
Saul Bass’s rejected poster for “The Shining” (1980); Philip Castle’s poster for “Clockwork Orange,” (1972); Saul Bass’s poster for “The Cardinal” (1963)
Bahous wants credit and compensation from Disney, but if he takes it to court it will be an uphill fight. From Quartz:
Designers need to satisfy two criteria to win a court case: They need to show “substantial similarities” (which Bahous arguably does in his Facebook post), and they need to prove that the designers had access to the original design work (in this case, his Sony CD covers). This could involve asking the Star Wars poster designers to show their inspiration boards or unpack their conceptual process at the trial. An added complication is the fact that Bahous is in France and there’s is no “international copyright” standard followed by all countries, as the US Copyright Office explains.
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