The author of Star Wars and the Aliens trilogy, Alan Dean Foster, has revealed that Disney, the publisher of his books, has “never” paid royalties on his novels.
Foster wrote an open letter to Disney, and published it on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) blog on Wednesday.
“Dear Mickey,” Foster wrote.
“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.”
Foster said Disney asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to negotiations, and has continued to ignore requests from his agents, as well as queries from the SFWA.
The author revealed his wife has “serious medical issues” and he himself was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer in 2016.
“We could use the money,” he wrote. “Not charity: just what I’m owed.”
Foster told the SFWA press conference that for “many years” he received regular statements from the original publishers of the novels, but then his statements stopped.
Foster’s publisher, Vaughn Hansen, said it took “a considerable amount of time” to track down the new publishers of the book, Disney.
According to the SFWA, Disney has argued that it purchased the rights, but not the obligations, of the contract.
“In other words, they believe they have the right to publish work, but are not obligated to pay the writer no matter what the contract says,” president of the SFWA, Mary Robinette Kowal said.
Kowal said while this was concerning, the “larger problem” was that this had the potential to affect every writer.
“If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States. All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company,” she said.
Now, people are showing their support for the well-known author on Twitter, with the hashtag #DisneyMustPay trending online.
“This is horrifying,” one user wrote. “Not just for Foster, who of course is owed his royalties. Not just for the other Star Wars EU writers who might find themselves in the same position. The point Kowal brings up is terrifying.”
“What a scam,” another said.
— Jason Snell (@jsnell) November 18, 2020
Look, I love a lot of the stuff Disney produces, but you can’t just *not honor a contract because you don’t feel like paying.* You made $65 billion in revenue in 2020, Disney. Pay what you owe. #DisneyMustPay https://t.co/il3uVcsO2f
— Dan Moren (@dmoren) November 18, 2020
Oh, this is grotesque. Alan Dean Foster has written soooo many books for beloved media properties. He helped make them beloved! And now Disney is stealing his earnings? #DisneyMustPay https://t.co/SrEdWtFwhf
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) November 18, 2020
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