[LMB] OT: Disney cheating authors out of royalties

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Mon May 3 19:11:50 BST 2021

A while back, I posted on the list about how Alan Dean Foster was claiming that Disney was stiffing him on royalties for several novelizations he wrote for properties that Disney has since acquired. The SFWA was backing Foster up, and Disney was arguing that they had "purchased the rights but not the obligations" of the material in question. Also, they were demanding a non-disclosure agreement before they would even begin to negotiate. (https://www.sfwa.org/2020/11/18/disney-must-pay/)

A couple of people on the list were skeptical, because we were only seeing one side of the story (Foster's), and because they couldn't believe that a major corporation would ignore the law this way.

Well, there is an update!

The good news is: Disney has paid Foster the royalties they owe him!

The bad news is: the way they treated Foster seems to be their standard operating procedure, and most writers don't have the name recognition and contacts that Foster does. A number of authors have come forward with similar stories.  And while Disney is the worst offender, they are not the only ones doing this. The SFWA, Romance Writers of America, the Horror Writers of America, the National Writers Union, Sisters in Crime and the Authors Guild have come together to advocate for all the authors who haven't been paid, and are promising anonymity for any authors scared of retaliation. (Due to purchases and mergers, Disney owns the rights to something like 3/4 of the properties that put out tie-in novels and novlizations--a writer who pays the bills with that sort of work has to be VERY careful not to offend them.) Their website is https://www.writersmustbepaid.org/solutions

Beatrice Otter

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