Following the attention brought to Disney’s withholding of royalties rightfully owed to veteran sci-fi novelist Alan Dean Foster, several additional authors have stepped forward with similar claims of their own.
Last month, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America launched a social media campaign in order to bring awareness to the situation surrounding Foster, who claimed that since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2009, he had not received any royalties for any of the works he had produced for the company.
In a statement provided to the SFWA, written as if he were speaking to Disney, Foster noted that “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.”
“Disney’s argument is that they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract,” explained SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal. “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.”
She further added that such a precedent would mean that “all a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company.”
However, it appears that not only has Disney failed to properly rectify the situation, but that Foster was not the only author whose Lucasfilm-related royalties were withheld by the entertainment conglomerate.
According to a December 16th report from Polygon, “Four additional authors have come forward to Polygon to confirm that they haven’t been paid royalties for work now owned by Disney, for works that appear to have been transferred to other publishers.”
These authors include “Rob MacGregor, who wrote the tie-in novel for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as several additional tie-in novels; Donald Glut, author of the Empire Strikes Back novelization; James Kahn, author Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novelizations; and Michael A. Stackpole, author of the X-Wing comics, Star Wars: Union, and Star Wars: Mara Jade — By the Emperor’s Hand.”
“For all I know, there are hundreds of writers in exactly the same situation,” Foster told Polygon. “We’ll figure it’s Disney, or this company or that company. And I can’t do anything about it, because I’m just me. And they don’t realize that they’re in a big boat with a lot of other people with the same situation until somebody steps forward and says ‘look, this has to stop, it’s wrong.’”
In Stackpole’s case, the author “began to notice issues with his comics shortly after Disney transferred the Star Wars comics license away from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel Comics, which Disney already owned.”
“After speaking with another writer who’d written for both Dark Horse and Marvel, Stackpole learned that the writer was getting royalties from reprints, but only because they were already in Marvel’s system prior to its acquisition by Disney in 2009,” Polygon wrote. “It was his understanding that if you hadn’t worked for Marvel, if you weren’t already in their royalty system, you just weren’t,” [Stackpole] says.”
In a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal, a Disney spokesperson stated that “we are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case.”
Sharing his own opinion with the outlet, Foster asserted that “Disney has acquired a house with a mortgage on it. They want to keep living in the house. They don’t want to pay the mortgage.”
As was the case when the story initially broke, fans have vocalized support for Foster and his fellow authors on social media using the SFWA-created hashtag, #DisneyMustPay.
What do you make of these new claims against Disney? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!