Disney, of course, has a reputation as a staunch copyright claimant. It has been accused of being the leader in always pushing for more stringent copyright laws. And then, of course, there’s the infamous Mickey Mouse Curve, First identified a decade ago by Tom Bell, to highlight how extensions of copyright terms always seem to happen. Just Since Mickey Mouse was about to enter the public domain (though, hopefully, this ends up):
Accurate or not, Disney is synonymous with maximizing copyright law, which the company and its lobbyists always justify with nonsense claims about how they did this to “the artist”.
Except that Disney doesn’t seem to pay artists. While the details are a bit vague, American science fiction and fantasy writers (SFWA) and renowned author Alan Dean Foster announced yesterday that Disney no longer pays him royalties For many of the Star Wars books he wrote (including the novel of the first movie dating back to 1976), along with his novels of Aliens films. He claims he was always getting royalties before, but they all of a sudden disappeared.
Foster wrote a letter (amicably directed at “Mickey”) clarifying his side of the argument, stating more or less that since Disney acquired so many companies and other rights, it has stopped paying royalties:
When I purchased Lucasfilm, I acquired the rights to some of the books I wrote. STAR WARS, the first movie novel. SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE, the first supplementary novel. You owe me the proceeds on these books. I stopped paying them.
When I bought 20th Century Fox, I finally acquired the rights to the other books I wrote. The accounts of ALIEN, ALIENS, and ALIEN 3. You have never paid royalties on any of these, or even issued equity statements of them.
All of these books are still largely printed. They still earn money. is yours. When another company buys, it acquires its liabilities in addition to its assets. You’re definitely reaping the asset’s rewards. I very much like my little post (though it’s not that small for me).
You want me to sign a nondisclosure agreement (nondisclosure agreement) before speaking. I signed a lot of nondisclosure agreements during my 50-year career that no one ever asked me to sign one before negotiations. The obvious reason is that once you sign, you can’t talk about the matter at hand. Every one of my representatives on this issue, with many, many decades of experience in such works, echoes my perplexity.
You continue to ignore requests from my agents. You continue to ignore inquiries from SFWA, America’s science fiction and fantasy writers. You continue to ignore my legal representatives. I know this is what giants often do. Ignore requests and inquiries in the hope that the petitioner will simply disappear. Or maybe you will die. But I’m still here, and I’m still owed what you owe me. Including not being overlooked, just because I’m just one writer. How many other writers and artists do you similarly ignore?
in a Video press conferenceFoster and SFWA said (acknowledging that no one on the call was a lawyer) that Disney claims it has bought “the rights but not the obligations” of these actions. It’s weird. I hope there was a lawyer on the call. Because this does not make sense.
As SFWA notes, if the rights can be purchased without obligations, then a company can fake the rights without obligation and avoid paying any royalties whatsoever.
Of course, details here matter, and we only have one side (not their attorney). There could be something very strange about these contracts (this is, basically, a contract dispute, not a copyright dispute). But only the basic facts of the position seem disgusting on the part of Disney. If you owe the proceeds, you are paying the royalties. Given how aggressive Disney is with its copyright, you’d think its attorneys would understand this.
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