Disney has replaced Amazon at the top of many people’s shit-lists this week when the SFWA publicly criticized the media giant for not paying royalties to Alan Dean Foster.
From Foster’s letter:
We have a lot in common, you and I. We share a birthday: November 18. My dad’s nickname was Mickey. There’s more.
When you purchased Lucasfilm you acquired the rights to some books I wrote. STAR WARS, the novelization of the very first film. SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE, the first sequel novel. You owe me royalties on these books. You stopped paying them.
When you purchased 20th Century Fox, you eventually acquired the rights to other books I had written. The novelizations of ALIEN, ALIENS, and ALIEN 3. You’ve never paid royalties on any of these, or even issued royalty statements for them.
All these books are all still very much in print. They still earn money. For you. When one company buys another, they acquire its liabilities as well as its assets. You’re certainly reaping the benefits of the assets. I’d very much like my miniscule (though it’s not small to me) share.
You want me to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) before even talking. I’ve signed a lot of NDAs in my 50-year career. Never once did anyone ever ask me to sign one prior to negotiations. For the obvious reason that once you sign, you can no longer talk about the matter at hand. Every one of my representatives in this matter, with many, many decades of experience in such business, echo my bewilderment.
You continue to ignore requests from my agents. 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. Including not to be ignored, just because I’m only one lone writer. How many other writers and artists out there are you similarly ignoring?
I would remind you that we only have one side of the story, although I have been told privately that the claims are legit.
BTW, I do have an issue I which to bring up so it can be addressed. When Disney bought LucasFilm in 2012, they acquired a back catalog consisting of hundreds of novels by I don’t know how many authors. This issue potentially affects scores if not hundreds of authors, which at first made me doubt the veracity of the claims. After all, how could 8 years go by without other authors complaining?
The answer to that is relatively simple; if there are other authors, and they signed the NDAs Foster mentioned, then they certainly would not be speaking now.
I have reached out to both sides to ask for more information. I will add their responses to this post.