Megadeth have settled a copyright lawsuit stemming from the artwork for their latest album, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!.
Back in February, New York-based illustrator Brent Elliott White sued the band, claiming that hundreds of hours of work had gone unpaid and that he still owned the copyright to the art featuring Megadeth’s iconic mascot Vic Rattlehead.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, both parties filed a joint notice of settlement last Thursday (May 11th), informing the court that they had “reached an agreement in principle for the resolution of this action.” A stipulation of dismissal is expected to be filed within 30 days, and “the matter has been resolved amicably,” per White’s attorney Matthew Cave.
White, who has also created art for Trivium and Death Angel, among others, was initially contacted to work on the Megadeth sleeve in early 2020, but no written contract was signed at that time. Nevertheless, White continued with the project, which involved multiple revisions and “hundreds of hours of work.”
According to White’s original suit, the band chose the cover concept for The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! in April 2021 and White was asked to create art for an EP release. Then, in June 2022, he was asked by Megadeth’s manager to provide additional artwork renderings for stage designs to be used on tour. Still without a signed contract, White reached out to the manager via text: “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.”
The lawsuit added that the manager was purportedly receptive (“No one intended to not have this papered by now,” he replied), but the album’s lead single dropped the next day, with White’s uncredited art appearing on various music websites. He then went directly to Universal Music Group to explain that he was still the copyright holder until an agreement to transfer rights was made. The album eventually dropped in September 2022, and the parties involved had yet to agree on a price, leading to the eventual copyright suit.
You can view the artwork in question below, and pick up The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! on vinyl here.