Dean claims visualisation of Pandora, the world on which the film is set, was based heavily on his artwork.
He’s demanded $50m in damages – and he also wants Twentieth Century Fox to ensure Avatar is never seen again in its current form.
In papers lodged at New York District Court last week, and revealed by Deadline, Dean’s representatives argue that floating islands and stone arches as seen in the movie bear so much resemblance to his creations that it amounts to breach of copyright.
The document says: “Plaintiff has been a well-known and successful artist and designer for more than 45 years. Plaintiff is recognised internationally for architectural concepts, stage, furniture and logo design – but particularly for his paintings of unique and original landscapes that feature geological forms not otherwise occurring in art or nature.”
Dean cites three books – Views from 1975, Magnetic Storm from 1984 and Dragon’s Dream from 2008 – as evidence his work existed before Cameron made Avatar.
“The similarities of such work are substantial, continuing and direct, so as to rule out any accidental copying or similarity in scenes common to the genre,” the paper says.
“The infringing portions of Avatar are so similar to Plaintiff’s works that Defendants must have had access to Plaintiff’s works.”
Along with a cash settlement and a public statement admitting he was the creator of imagery used in the film, Dean wants Fox to “cease and desist from any further reproduction, distribution, transmission or other use.”
If judgement is found in his favour, it means the original version of Avatar would have to be scrapped, and any sequels will look massively different from the production seen on release.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Cameron was asked in 2010 if he got the idea for floating mountains from a Yes album cover, and answered: “It might have been, back in my pot-smoking days.”
Former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman last week confirmed Dean is working on new sets for a 2014 touring production of 1974 album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.