Press Release (ePRNews.com) - NEW YORK - Nov 20, 2020 - Famed science fiction and fantasy writer Alan Dean Foster, writer of multiple book series, numerous novelizations of film scripts and more than 20 novels, held a joint virtual press conference on November 18 with Mary Robinette Kowal, President, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) to discuss the non-payment by Disney of several contracts for works including multiple Star Wars and Aliens novelizations.
Foster was originally contracted to write the Alien novelizations by Warner Books and the Star Wars novelizations by Lucasfilms. Both companies regularly paid his royalties. When The Walt Disney Company eventually acquired the rights to these novelizations in or around 2015, the payments stopped although the books continue to be sold. Disney continues to get money for the books. Alan Dean Foster, and possibly other authors with similar contracts, have not been paid.
“In my decade with the organization, the fact that we are forced to present this publicly is unprecedented. So too, are the problems,” said Kowal. “The simple problem is that we have a writer who is not being paid.”
“The larger problem has the potential to affect every writer. Disney’s argument is that they have 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. 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,” stated Kowal.
In an open letter to Mickey Mouse, Foster wrote:
“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?”
During the press conference, Foster and SFWA discussed the fact the contracts are contracts and that Disney must pay this author and any author to whom they owe royalty checks.
Video of the virtual press conference with Foster, SFWA’s President Mary Robinette Kowal and Vaughne Lee Hansen can be viewed on SFWA’s Facebook page (https://fb.watch/1Rs5SFBaTq/).
Foster read his letter he wrote to the most public face of Disney – – Mickey Mouse. You can read his #DearMickey letter along with a statement from SFWA about the unprecedented steps they are taking on the SFWA site. (https://www.sfwa.org/2020/11/18/disney-must-pay/)
Writers experiencing similar problems with Disney or another company, please report your circumstances to SFWA here. (https://airtable.com/shrr2S8rs4pcokske)