Alan Dean Foster Goes Public with his Dispute with Disney Over Royalties

Alien the Novel

Earlier today, Alan Dean Foster and the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) held a press conference concerning Disney‘s refusal to pay royalties to Foster for work he has done. Foster was originally contracted to write the Alien novelizations through Warner Books which were eventually licensed to Titan Books, and the Star Wars novelizations by Lucasfilms. Both Warner Books and Lucasfilms regularly paid his royalties.

When The Walt Disney Company 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.

Disney’s defense is they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. They are claiming they have the right to publish the work but not pay the writer based on the original contract.

If this stands, it stands to set a precedent with chilling effects within publishing, and creative industries as a whole.

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal has laid out three solutions to the dispute:

  1. Pay Alan Dean Foster all back royalties as well as any future royalties.
  2. Publication ceases until new contract(s) are signed, and pay all back royalties to Alan Dean Foster as well as any future royalties.
  3. Publication ceases and pay all back royalties to Alan Dean Foster.

In his public letter to the company Foster says Disney wanted him to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before even talking and negotiating. The publisher has since ingnored requests from his agents and the SFWA.

Foster also included his need that there’s a medical need for the money. He’s not looking for charity, he just wants what he’s owed.

The SFWA is also looking to see if this is a systemic issue with Disney and is asking for other creators to report if they’ve experienced similar experiences. You can do so here. Disney purchased Marvel Comics in 2009 and one would assume contracts with royalties in that deal. Unless there’s something specific about Foster’s original contract, Disney’s stance would be inconsistent by their own actions assuming they’re abiding by those Marvel contracts.

You can watch the full press conference below.

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