Alan Dean Foster, creator of a number of Star Wars novelizations, says Disney hasn’t paid him his royalties. According to Foster, Disney has additionally requested him to signal a non-disclosure settlement earlier than the corporate will communicate with him.
“You continue to ignore requests from my agents,” Foster wrote in a letter revealed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. “You continue to ignore queries from SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. You continue to ignore my legal representatives. I know this is what gargantuan corporations often do. Ignore requests and inquiries hoping the petitioner will simply go away. Or possibly die. But I’m still here, and I am still entitled to what you owe me.”
Foster ghost-wrote the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope, beneath the byline of George Lucas; it was revealed in 1976 earlier than the film’s launch. He additionally revealed a sequel to Star Wars, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012; based on Foster, Disney stopped paying him royalties. Last yr, Disney purchased twentieth Century Fox, buying the rights to another novelizations by Foster: Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. Disney hasn’t paid Foster a dime on any of the Alien books, he says.
Disney says that it engaged with Foster and his agent for greater than a yr over the Alien books — and that that is the primary they’ve heard concerning the Star Wars novelizations as a degree of competition. According to Disney, their final correspondence was in March, asking for a gathering, and the corporate didn’t hear again. Disney views the NDA as normal follow round negotiations.
According to SFWA president Mary Robinette Kowal, Disney is arguing that when it purchased Lucasfilm and twentieth Century Fox, they purchased contract rights — however not the authorized obligation to pay Foster for his work. “If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States,” Kowal wrote. “All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company.” Disney declined to touch upon this characterization of their stance.
Kowal additionally expressed concern Disney could also be utilizing related techniques with different writers.
But past the person injustice being visited upon Foster, Kowal and SFWA fear that this represents a set of latest, company anti-writer techniques: flipping property with out liabilities, refusing to speak about it with out an NDA.
— Cory Doctorow #BLM (@doctorow) November 19, 2020
This isn’t Disney’s first brush with radically altering copyright. Disney has persistently lobbied Congress to elongate copyright intervals — partially to guard its mascot, Mickey Mouse. Disney lobbied closely for the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which was launched by Sonny Bono; had that legislation not handed, Mickey would already be within the public area.
Read the complete textual content of Foster’s letter right here:
We have quite a bit in frequent, you and I. We share a birthday: November 18. My dad’s nickname was Mickey. There’s extra.
When you bought Lucasfilm you acquired the rights to some books I wrote. STAR WARS, the novelization of the very first movie. SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE, the primary sequel novel. You owe me royalties on these books. You stopped paying them.
When you bought twentieth Century Fox, you finally acquired the rights to different books I had written. The novelizations of ALIEN, ALIENS, and ALIEN 3. You’ve by no means paid royalties on any of those, and even issued royalty statements for them.
All these books are all nonetheless very a lot in print. They nonetheless earn cash. For you. When one firm buys one other, they purchase its liabilities in addition to its property. You’re actually reaping the advantages of the property. I’d very very like my miniscule (although it’s not small to me) share.
You need me to signal an NDA (Non-disclosure settlement) earlier than even speaking. I’ve signed quite a lot of NDAs in my 50-year profession. Never as soon as did anybody ever ask me to signal one previous to negotiations. For the plain purpose that when you signal, you may now not speak concerning the matter at hand. Every certainly one of my representatives on this matter, with many, many many years of expertise in such enterprise, echo my bewilderment.
You proceed to disregard requests from my brokers. You proceed to disregard queries from SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. You proceed to disregard my authorized representatives. I do know that is what gargantuan companies typically do. Ignore requests and inquiries hoping the petitioner will merely go away. Or presumably die. But I’m nonetheless right here, and I’m nonetheless entitled to what you owe me. Including to not be ignored, simply because I’m just one lone author. How many different writers and artists on the market are you equally ignoring?
My spouse has critical medical points and in 2016 I used to be identified with a sophisticated type of most cancers. We might use the cash. Not charity: simply what I’m owed. I’ve at all times cherished Disney. The movies, the parks, rising up with the Disneyland TV present. I don’t suppose Unca Walt would approve of how you might be presently treating me. Maybe somebody in the fitting place simply hasn’t acquired the phrase, although in spite of everything these months of ignored requests and queries, that’s onerous to countenance. Or as a man named Bob Iger stated….
“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
I’m not feeling it.
Alan Dean Foster
Update November nineteenth, 8:30PM ET: Adds Disney’s response.