New York-based illustrator and designer Brent Elliott White, who has previously worked with TRIVIUM, JOB FOR A COWBOY, DEATH ANGEL and ARCH ENEMY, among others, is suing Megadeth and their label Universal Music Group (UMG) over the cover art for “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District Of New York on February 3, 2023 and alleges copyright infringement and unpaid wages.
In a report by The Hollywood Reporter, White says he was contacted in early 2020 about creating a design concept and artwork for an upcoming MEGADETH studio album, which would be the third MEGADETH LP he has been involved in designing and producing artwork for. By mid-April 2021, MEGADETH had settled on the concept and artwork that would become the basis for the cover of their “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” Around this time, White says he was asked to create cover art for an EP release, which he also worked on.
White claims he “created artwork and characters over time for Megadeth that have become an integral part of the band’s identity” without being paid. White said he was originally contacted by the band in early 2020 to create the artwork and, after agreeing to work with Megadeth, did not receive or sign a written contract. White claims the artwork went through “multiple revisions and edits and hundreds of hours of work” without ever receiving a contract.
In June 2022, White was contacted by Megadeth manager Bob Johnsen to create additional artwork for the band’s upcoming tour. At that time, White mentioned to Johnsen that there was still no contract in place for his work, to which White claims Johnsen responded “I know album release time is hectic but I have to mention that any send off, including album art, is contingent on compensation and contract. So we’re going to have to sort that out soon.” White also claims Johnsen then said that “no one intended to not have this papered by now’ and he ‘would bring it up the right way.'”
White then claims that when the first single from “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” was released through Rolling Stone, he was not credited as the artist responsible for any of the artwork. White claims to have contacted UMG, saying that without any agreement or signed contract, he was still the owner of the artwork and that the label was then infringing upon his copyright. White further claims that he was still not paid or given a contract upon the release of “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” later in 2022.
White is asserting claims against Megadeth and UMG under the New York’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which requires a written contract and “timely and full payment” for any contract work worth over $800. In addition to copyright infringement and unpaid wages, White is asking the court to stop Megadeth and UMG from using the artwork.
Megadeth and UMG have not yet responded to the lawsuit. The full lawsuit can be found below.