Disney (Disney!) Accused Of Trying To Lawyer Its Way Out Of Paying Royalties To Alan Dean Foster

from the the-maximalism-only-works-in-one-direction dept

Disney, of course, has quite the reputation as a copyright maximalist. It has been accused of being the leading company in always pushing for more draconian copyright laws. And then, of course, there's the infamous Mickey Mouse curve, first designated a decade ago by Tom Bell, highlighting how copyright term extensions seemed to always happen just as Mickey Mouse was set to go into the public domain (though, hopefully that's about to end):

Whether accurate or not, Disney is synonymous with maximizing copyright law, which the company and its lobbyists always justify with bullshit claims of how they do it "for the artist."

Except that it appears that Disney is not paying artists. While the details are a bit fuzzy, yesterday the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and famed author Alan Dean Foster announced that Disney was no longer paying him royalties for the various Star Wars books he wrote (including the novelization of the very first film back in 1976), along with his novelizations of the Aliens movies. He claims he'd always received royalties before, but they suddenly disappeared.

Foster wrote a letter (amusingly addressed to "Mickey") in which he lays out his side of the argument, more or less saying that as Disney has gobbled up various other companies and rights, it just stopped paying royalties:

When you purchased Lucasfilm you acquired the rights to some books I wrote. STAR WARS, the novelization of the very first film. SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE, the first sequel novel. You owe me royalties on these books. You stopped paying them.

When you purchased 20th Century Fox, you eventually acquired the rights to other books I had written. The novelizations of ALIEN, ALIENS, and ALIEN 3. You’ve never paid royalties on any of these, or even issued royalty statements for them.

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.

You want me to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) before even talking. I’ve signed a lot of NDAs in my 50-year career. Never once did anyone ever ask me to sign one prior to negotiations. For the obvious reason that once you sign, you can no longer talk about the matter at hand. Every one of my representatives in this matter, with many, many decades of experience in such business, echo my bewilderment.

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?

In a video press conference, Foster and SFWA (while admitting that no one on the call were lawyers) said that Disney is claiming that it purchased "the rights but not the obligations" to these works. That's... weird. And I wish there was a lawyer on the call. Because that doesn't make much sense.

As SFWA notes, if it is possible to purchase rights without the obligations, then any company could just do a sham sale of the rights without the obligations and get out of paying any royalties ever.

Of course, the details here matter, and we only have one side (and not their lawyers). There may be something very weird in these contracts (and this is, basically, a contract dispute, not a copyright one). But just at a fundamental facts of the situation look disgusting on Disney's part. If you owe royalties, you pay the royalties. Considering how aggressive Disney is with its own copyrights, you'd think its lawyers would understand that.

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Filed Under: alan dean foster, aliens, contracts, copyright, mickey mouse, obligations, rights, royalties, star wars
Companies: disney, sfwa


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 10:58am

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until it happens:

    Kill the Mouse; take his house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      'Gruesome' Oleg N. Juray, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:55am

      Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

      State EXACTLY what HARM Disney's copyright does to you.

      Since you can't do specifics, it's clear that your real interest is more general for piracy, which to obtain work-products of the creative for FREE.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:52pm

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        Announce that you are going to create an animated movie based on the works of Rudyard Kipling, and watch how fast you get a threatening letter from Disney's lawyers

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        I have a question for you: Can you name one original Disney story?

        Also, it's clear that Disney is much worse than a pirate since they actually sell someone else's work without compensating the original author. It's not the first time they've done it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          cpt kangarooski, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

          Can you name one original Disney story?

          • Fantasia. (Stories original; music not, but that was the entire point)
          • Saludos Amigos.
          • The Three Caballeros (except for one part to the extent that it's a retelling of the Nativity story)
          • The Aristocats
          • Fantasia 2000 (same thing)
          • Dinosaur
          • The Emperor's New Groove (was originally meant to be a version of The Prince and the Pauper but turned into something else in development)
          • Atlantis: The Lost Empire (unless you're really going to be a stickler, because Plato doesn't really discuss it much)
          • Lilo and Stitch (the artist at Disney who pitched it had been going to do it as a book, but didn't)
          • Brother Bear (though it started out as King Lear)
          • Home on the Range
          • Meet the Robinsons
          • Bolt
          • Wreck-It-Ralph (does have a lot of cameos from real games, though)
          • Zootopia
          • Moana (draws from folklore to some extent)
          • Ralph Breaks the Internet (more cameos, but also a sequel, so maybe that doesn't count?)

          So apparently they're getting better about it, especially if you think there's a difference between copying another work and merely using scènes à faire.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Bob Buttons, 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

            I'd beg to differ on Dinosaur. It's basically a retelling of the Land Before Time.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              cpt kangarooski, 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoon

              Fair enough; I'm working off of Wikipedia summaries and never saw either.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is car

                You can drop Moana and every other Disney movie which is a derivative work of folklore, myth, or prior works in the public domain. I mean, there's no question at all that the characters of Maui, Hades, Hercules, Robin Hood, Poseidon, The Little Mermaid, Prince Charming, Snow White, etc, etc...are representing very well established characters.

                If any individual was still alive to claim the copyright on any of these then Disney would be bankrupt over the infringement. As those characters have fallen into the public domain I can only wonder - where's our cut of the royalties? The answer to which is, of course, that copyright never was intended to serve the public, only a small minority of gatekeeper interests intent on preserving a publishing monopoly.

                And that's how it works still, today.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  cpt kangarooski, 20 Nov 2020 @ 6:06am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is

                  My understanding is that Moana isn't based on a myth, though it does feature a mythical hero and some other things in it. The story is at most based on a historical period of about a thousand years in which Polynesian peoples stopped making long distance ocean voyages for some reason. The movie explains why with a made-up story. This is different from say, (the non-Disney movie) Clash of the Titans which at least tried to tell the myth of Perseus.

                  Anyway, the point is that they do tell some stories that are perhaps surprisingly original, and that the trend is increasing. Maybe that's because they've exhausted the major fairy tale stories.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 6:28am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rag

                    "Anyway, the point is that they do tell some stories that are perhaps surprisingly original, and that the trend is increasing."

                    Well, if you ignore the trend of remaking every one of their animated movies as a live action feature, and their spin offs of their old work (e.g. Maleficent).

                    They're not really any better or worse than the rest of Hollywood for the most part, but it does seem that some cherry picking is going on here on both sides.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Nov 2020 @ 7:48am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rag

                    "My understanding is that Moana isn't based on a myth, though it does feature a mythical hero and some other things in it."

                    Well, yes, the story itself is a self-derivative. Maui, Te Fiti, Te Ka and all the other mythological figures, however, would be enough to have any company broken into bankruptcy if the copyrights had been held privately.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rocky, 19 Nov 2020 @ 3:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

            None of them are truly original, they are all built upon other stories or tropes. And that's the point, all stories borrow from what came before.

            Just take your first example, Fantasia, it's a pure ripoff of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) written in 1797, and the music is based on Paul Dukas Scherzo which was inspired by the original poem.

            If you go through all these stories you listed you'll find that they are just other older stories and tropes that have been re-packaged, re-shuffled or just plain ripped off with some names changed.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              cpt kangarooski, 19 Nov 2020 @ 3:39pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoon

              What you are talking about is novelty, which is not the same thing as originality at all. Originality, in the context of copyright, means that it wasn't copied. Novelty (which is really a patent thing) means that it didn't previously exist. In fact you can have original works that are identical to preexisting works in every respect, but it's very unlikely if the works are at all complex. Further, copyright often only applies to parts of works -- the original parts -- with no protection as to parts that aren't original.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoon

              "None of them are truly original, they are all built upon other stories or tropes."

              Name stories that you think are original that don't build on something that came before. You'll have a very hard time.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:25pm

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        You can't ask a question then declare your position correct before giving anyone else a chance to answer.

        As for specific harm? Disney is suspected to be one of the big reasons for the constant extension of copywrite to it's ridiculous lengths, which does harm everyone.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2020 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

          "You can't ask a question then declare your position correct before giving anyone else a chance to answer."

          Fox News does, doesn't make it right

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        wereisjessicahyde (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        Copyright is supposed to benefit the public not corporations.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 3:13pm

          He can’t be both anti-corporation and pro-copyright. His head would explode from the cognitive dissonance.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:47am

          Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

          "Copyright is supposed to benefit the public not corporations."

          That's the hype, yes. It's not the true intent and never was.

          Copyright was always intended to be a protectionist mechanism, first as an outright political-religious censorship tool and later on recast as information control in the hands of private entities for the main purpose of preserving the monopoly of an ailing publishing industry.

          Copyright is just the answer to the old question of "We're on to a good thing here. How do we kick down the ladder so no one else can get up here?"

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 4:43pm

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        A LOT of harm. Copyright is supposed to enrich our culture. Many works of art (especially old films and show tvs) are LOST because no one was allowed to copy and preserve them.

        Much of this is DIRECTLY attributable to Disney for being the driving force of the constant extends of the how long copyrights last.

        The lost of these works harms us all.

        This had NOTHING to do with getting stuff for free, moron.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 8:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

          Really, the freeloaders wanting something for nothing have always only been the ones pushing for extensions to copyright.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:35am

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        "...it's clear that your real interest is more general for piracy, which to obtain work-products of the creative for FREE."

        90% of Disney's works are derived from the public domain. Where are our royalties for this infringement?

        I'm not at all surprised the way you keep harping for the republicans, Baghdad Bob, - despite your outright communist dedication to the idea that corporations are the servants of the public - when your every accusation turns out to be a confession.

        Copyright is theft, and it's most fervent advocates just keep trying to deflect from that fact.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:25am

        Re: Re: A. Stephen Stone, your petty rage is cartoonish.

        "Since you can't do specifics, it's clear that your real interest is more general for piracy, which to obtain work-products of the creative for FREE."

        No, that would be Disney, who are materially stealing revenue from said creative, which is actually in evidence unlike your imaginary strawmen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:09am

    Tough Choices

    If you had a single-use time machine and the choice to go back and stop either Hitler or Disney before they could do so much damage, which would you choose?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:14am

      Easy solution

      Trick question, you go back in time and get Hitler to go after Disney instead, nullifying both problems in one go.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Easy solution

        It's not a trick question, just a silly one, because if you go back in time far enough to take care of Disney, you're far enough back in time to deal with Hitler at the same time. Or maybe you take care of Hitler first, then deal with a still mostly okay Disney before it gets out of hand. In either case, a one-shot time machine can deal with both problems.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:01am

          Re: Re: Easy solution

          "...then deal with a still mostly okay Disney..."

          You need to take a good look at good old anti-semitic pseudo-nazi McCarthy adhering Uncle Walt if you think Disney was ever "OK". He was that one guy in Hollywood who rolled out the red carpet to Leni Riefenstahl and of whom she later spoke in glowing terms as being one of the americans not falling for the jewish conspiracy.

          I'd actually say that with that one-use time machine in hand you could probably finagle some logistics and find a way to pop a cap in both Hitler and Disney. I can envision a tour where you load up with a few smartbombs and proceed to take out Mussolini, McCarthy, and the japanese junta who planned their entry into WW2 while at it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 2:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Easy solution

            "He was that one guy in Hollywood"

            "Disney" the brand and the company is a lot more than "Disney" the man, even when he was still alive.

            "I'd actually say that with that one-use time machine in hand you could probably finagle some logistics and find a way to pop a cap in both Hitler and Disney."

            Then, arrive back in the present and see what all the unintended consequences of that action were.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Rocky, 20 Nov 2020 @ 5:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy solution

              Then, arrive back in the present and see what all the unintended consequences of that action were.

              Which is why just stealing their wallets is the way to go. It will not really change history, but it will certainly inconvenience and piss them off.

              See Hitler's Wallet

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 5:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy solution

                "It will not really change history"

                It would, though. Not in terms of the holocaust, but - was Hitler going to be paying someone that night that would have had some ramifications, or did he have to cancel a meeting that would have changed the way he approached his rise to power had he spoken to them? Or, did the loss of his wallet lead to him having a conversation with some sympathetic soul who otherwise wouldn't have believed in his regime? Did the purchase of a new wallet enable something to happen that wouldn't have done otherwise?

                Maybe the effect of losing a wallet on a night out might not be the difference between holocaust and no holocaust, but logically the result also isn't the same as if he didn't have it stolen. Maybe there's no difference to the overall outcome in history overall, but to some individuals? There probably will be something. Would you want to find out that even though the path of history wasn't changed, some random Jewish guy got this shit kicked out of him that night because Hitler decided he was to blame, whereas the guy would have gone home unharmed if you hadn't stolen the wallet?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Rocky, 20 Nov 2020 @ 7:39am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy solution

                  Consider that the premise of stealing his wallet where set in 1939, everything was already set in motion at that time.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:43am

      Re: Tough Choices

      I'd go back and steal the wallets from Hitler and Walt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      'Gruesome' Oleg N. Juray, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:59am

      Re: Tough Choices

      If you had a single-use time machine and the choice to go back and stop either Hitler or Disney before they could do so much damage, which would you choose?

      THAT question typifies Techdirt in way this AC probably didn't intend.

      Yes, let's see... 6 million Jews (so the story goes), 20 or so other million people dead, Europe ravaged into ruins... Versus getting to watch Mickey Mouse (and other copyright work-products) for FREE.

      TOUGH CHOICE INDEED.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:41pm

      Re: Tough Choices

      Hitler or Disney before they could do so much damage

      I understand your point, but Disney didn't execute millions of people while waging war across most of the free world and beyond.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:21am

        Re: Re: Tough Choices

        "Disney didn't execute millions of people while waging war across most of the free world and beyond."

        True enough. But the choice is still tougher than you'd think. Hitler showed us all what evil was - and it looked suspiciously like a mindset of nationalist scapegoating practiced in part or whole by just about every other country at the time. Racism and anti-semitism were accepted norms everywhere.

        Given humanity's utter inability to learn without grueling and horrible example, I'm not entirely sure that without WW2 we'd even consider anti-semitism a bad thing. Israel probably wouldn't exist and being jewish in the US and the EU might still be...what it was around 1930.

        I'm also pretty sure no one would have raised any eyebrows about Jim Crow and MLK might go down as the uppity black guy who made a single footnote as a subversive anarchist bludgeoned to death by police rather than as an inspiration to the last two generations.

        Sadly, every step humanity has managed to make towards enlightenment has been made using a sufficiently horrible and well-known atrocity as a foothold. This does not speak well for us as a species and is one of those reasons I refuse religion. Because if we were made in the image of some omnipotent deity that does not speak well for said deity.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Tough Choices

      Don't really get this choice. Hitler by far? Disney has done long term damage, but he didn't result in the killing of millions of people. And he also did long term damage as neo-nazis are a thing that apparently still exist.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:25am

        Re: Re: Tough Choices

        "Don't really get this choice."

        It's a question more worth asking for the debate it brings. Consider the question; If Hitler did not exist, would we, as a species, have largely abandoned anti-semitism and racism? Would the majority of humanity have shied away from the clear tells of national leadership founded in racism, bigotry and xenophobia?

        Humanity, it's pretty clear, only manages to learn enlightenment as a society when the lesson is "This exact shit here brings atrocity. QED".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:54pm

      Re: Tough Choices

      I would say that's a really badly designed time-machine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ehud Gavron (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 5:12pm

      Re: Tough Choices

      I get it, but let's play the game:

      Someone gave me a "single-use time machine" and HARDCODED it so I could either kill Hitler or Disney and nobody else?

      That makes as much as the "downloading alien virus to mothership" Goldblum used in the Independence Day movie. "Jeff, we need a way to upload a virus to the mothership stat!" "Hold on, I'm writing a GUI first.

      "We need you to build a time machine so we can travel back in time, change something, and affect the future (today)." "Hold on, I'm installing an A/B switch for Hitler/Disney."

      I get the point you're trying to make... who is worse... Hitler or Disney. Each did horrible things and deserves to die. However, the reason time-paradox travel doesn't exist is because it can't work. Time moves inexorably forward.

      Playing along.
      Hypothetical one: You go back in time and kill Hitler. The V-2 is never built. The US doesn't go to the moon. SpaceX is never formed, and many other things.

      Hypothetical two: You go back in time and kill Disney. Copyright isn't weaponized but lots of great "Disney classics" are never made either. So would I rather live in a world with no Mulan, Hercules, Cinderella, Beauty, Snow White, etc. but copyrights are as free as CC licenses?

      I'll stick with "time travel can't exist" and if it did, instead of an A/B switch I'd have the engineer take the time (we have infinite time because we're going back in time) and change that damn switch to a selectable range of time and go back and watch the dawn of time knowing that I have great views... and killing one man won't improve the world into one Possible Perfect Future (thanks, Gene R!).

      I'll stop now.

      E

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:13am

        Re: Re: Tough Choices

        "Copyright isn't weaponized but lots of great "Disney classics" are never made either. So would I rather live in a world with no Mulan, Hercules, Cinderella, Beauty, Snow White, etc. but copyrights are as free as CC licenses?"

        That second part is a huge stretch. Disney were the cheerleader at the forefront of the current problems with copyright, but killing them doesn't mean that someone else won't take up the mantle. It likely just means that some other studio steps in and gets something else implemented, which may or may not be as bad as we have now, but certainly not CC licensed (worth noting too that the reason why CC exists in the first place is to counter overbearing copyright, so may never exist if a more reasonable copyright regime was in place).

        There's also the other major problems with doing such a thing - it's not just Disney classics that get killed, it's the entire concept of theatrical animated movies that they pioneered. Which means you won't just be killing Disney's own output, but also no Miyazaki, indeed probably most manga and anime since so much of it was openly inspired by Disney in the early days, no Pixar, not even Don Bluth, Heavy Metal and Ralph Bakshi, which furthermore means no Dragon's Lair and possible repercussions across videogames as a result of that. Which also means that tech pioneered in the creation of all that stuff never gets invented, including pioneering work from Disney themselves that's been built on for decades.

        Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:43am

        Re: Re: Tough Choices

        "Hypothetical one: You go back in time and kill Hitler. The V-2 is never built. The US doesn't go to the moon. SpaceX is never formed, and many other things."

        You forgot the obvious ones. Anti-semitism and racism are never exposed as bad things. We still practice the "white man's burden" and view jews as that second-class type of pseudo-human usurers running the world. What is today Israel would be either british commonwealth or part of Syria or Egypt.
        I'm not sure I'd want to live in a world where the Breitbart and Stormfront ideology was mainstream, Jim Crow might have been the higher end of western "equality", and the morning papers still had that obligatory comic strip featuring a hook-nosed Shylock caricature being evil.

        "Hypothetical two: You go back in time and kill Disney. Copyright isn't weaponized but lots of great "Disney classics" are never made either. So would I rather live in a world with no Mulan, Hercules, Cinderella, Beauty, Snow White, etc. but copyrights are as free as CC licenses?"

        Yeah, you know...I call flawed premise. Shakespeare wrote in a time before Copyright. The Chinese were pretty early making awesome theatre, movies and animated film around their folk legends. We might not have many of the current masterpieces but there is no doubt at all that we would have a whole lot of awesome in its place. Humanity, for good and ill, is a creative species of storytellers and might - paraphrasing the late, great Terry Pratchett - have been better named Pan Narrans than Homo Sapiens (a name an exercise of chutzpah in itself). If anything I'm inclined to think copyright only adds lead weights to our wings of inspiration.

        "I'll stick with "time travel can't exist"..."

        Oh, forward time travel is absolutely possible and proven in general relativity. Backwards time travel may be possible in theory but is likely impossible in practice. Even if it was I'm pretty sure I don't want to see what a BSOD CTD looks like from the inside.

        "...and killing one man won't improve the world into one Possible Perfect Future (thanks, Gene R!)."

        Plenty of sci-fi writers have scribbled about how trying to change the present by altering the past can go hideously wrong. Killing one person, or a whole bunch, will certainly remove one particular fuse - but will also rearrange the demolition charges.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 2:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Tough Choices

          "Backwards time travel may be possible in theory but is likely impossible in practice"

          It depends on what you mean by impossible, I suppose. I like the theory that while you can travel back, you can never travel forward to the same timeline you left afterwards, since from the point you are now the original time line never existed. Butterfly effect and all, just you being present in the past would lead to small changes and paradoxes that would change the future timeline, let alone doing something as fundamentally destructive as murdering someone who changed the planet in your timeline.

          "Killing one person, or a whole bunch, will certainly remove one particular fuse - but will also rearrange the demolition charges."

          I'll just give an example of one of the classics - Ray Bradbury's A Sound Of Thunder. In this story (the original, not the laughably bad movie version), people go on time safaris to hunt dinosaurs in the past. To avoid causing any problems in the future, the hunters kill a certain T-Rex that's going to die anyway within moments of their arrival. On one trip, taking place just as some elections are being called for a popular progressive candidate, something goes wrong that means that the T-Rex survives. On returning to the future, the protagonist notices a number of subtle changes, including that the election has just been called for an outright fascist.

          The fun thing about time paradoxes and unintended consequences is that they don't have to be as overt as the effect of deliberately assassinating someone. The future is so complex that even tiny changes can have major consequences.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:54am

      Re: Tough Choices

      "If you had a single-use time machine and the choice to go back and stop either Hitler or Disney before they could do so much damage, which would you choose?"

      Tough choice. You could argue that Disney's reign has taught us nothing and is intent on locking the future up. Hitler's atrocities at least taught us what evil looked like and how a nation gets there. Leading to at least one generation's worth of humanity desperately trying not to be THAT guy.

      That humanity won't learn lessons about long-term prosperity and liberty without a massive "oops" costing millions of lives and a scar or two of genocide is one of the reasons I'm convinced if there's intelligent life elsewhere in the universe they'll know better than to come here and visit us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 11:02am

        Re: Re: Tough Choices

        As I've heard it put(from a Calvin and Hobbes comic I believe) 'The greatest indicator that there is intelligent life in the universe is that none of it has tried to come here.'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:10am

    'We're Disney, we don't give we take.'

    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?

    If they're willing to ignore a major writer like him I have zero doubt that they have and are giving the same treatment to other creators.

    As for the NDA that seems like a pretty obvious attempt to shut him up, as once he signs the NDA then they can drag the 'discussion' out as long as possible until he gives up in disgust, a process which could take years and during which he's not out there talking about Disney ripping off an author.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:16am

    Disney is all for the artists, the con artists that run it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:17am

    Disney sure likes to talk the talk when it comes to copyright. But when it comes time to walk they start acting like someone missing both legs but perched on Mickeys shoulders while wearing a trenchcoat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    'Gruesome' Oleg N. Juray, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:51am

    Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

    This is only too typical of your anti-copyright pieces.

    1) Gives you chance to yet again put out this irrelevant graph -- showing increases before MM even made, which your notions do not explain, nor is the actual correlation good.

    2) You break with your usual assertions that copyright runs too long -- Foster's crap "novelization" hack work was over 40 years ago -- just in order to attack Disney.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      'Gruesome' Oleg N. Juray, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:51am

      Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

      3) Foster was contracted, which means "work for hire", as you...

      4) THEN inform that is probably contract terms, not actually about copyright!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:26am

        Re: Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

        "4) THEN inform that is probably contract terms, not actually about copyright!"

        So, you're OK with theft from artists so long as someone filled out some paperwork to put the fraud in writing. Noted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      'Gruesome' Oleg N. Juray, 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:51am

      Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

      5) Winding up, you dissolve into vagueness, haven't pursued the key fact of whether Foster is on solid ground here.

      You just saw "copyright" and "Disney", then take off on your usual fact-free contextless way to smear both.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        cpt kangarooski, 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

        I'm just putting this post here in the thread for convenience. It's not really a reply to the troll, but for others who might not realize that he's always spewing crap.

        Foster's novel isn't hack work. It's not amazing, and it was contradicted by later canon, but having been written as a sequel to the first movie when that was all there was, what more could be expected. It's certainly better than the Marvel Star Wars comic book that had a cartoon rabbit.

        Additionally, merely having been contracted doesn't make it a work made for hire. It depends on other facts, as well as the timing, since the 1976 Act took effect at the beginning of 1978, and as the book was written between when Star Wars came out in 1977 and when Empire came out in 1980, I'm not sure which act would control.

        The two cases to look at (under the 1909 and 1976 Acts, respectively) are the recent Kirby case as to the copyright in Marvel Comics characters, and the Community for Creative Non-Violence Case. But as I said, it's very fact-dependent.

        In any case though, as Mike notes, this is mainly a contract dispute, not a copyright dispute, though but for excessively long copyright terms, it wouldn't arise. Ideally neither Star Wars nor the novel at issue would still be copyrighted, permitting both to be freely copied without permission or royalties.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 2:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

          "Foster's novel isn't hack work."

          I'd say it's more important than whatever "quality" work he's thinking of (though, I appreciate his inferred permission to pirate anything that's not considered high art).

          The first 2 books in the Star Wars universe that he wrote (he has others, but ol' Bob wants to pretend they don't exist lest they kill his argument even further than he has already) are very interesting curios from a time long past. Lucas had not yet decided the direction of the series, and certainly hadn't come up with major parts of the Star Wars universe as yet - or at least had not made such decisions available to the author.

          So, we have no Vader as father story, no overriding structure of the Empire with the Emperor as defined as he is now, no Leia as sister, no Yoda, no Boba Fett, no Lando, no Hoth, Bespin or Dagobah. So, Foster created a couple of reasonably good pulp sci-fi novels in the universe he was aware of, which now allows us to peek into an alternative universe where much of what we now know in the universe existed. That to me is more valuable in curiosity value than some of the many pulpy continuations of the later established universe.

          "In any case though, as Mike notes, this is mainly a contract dispute, not a copyright dispute, though but for excessively long copyright terms, it wouldn't arise"

          Well, yes and no. If copyright had expired, there would be nothing to stop Foster having a contract with Disney for them to publish on his behalf if he wished, he just wouldn't be able to stop other publishers. If they broke that contract, they would still be guilty of contract violation if that applies. The only thing that copyright means in this case is that Foster may be prohibited from publishing his own version if the contract also involved giving the copyright to the publisher. If the work was in public domain, he would be able to publish a competing version without violating any copyright law, but of course he would then still have the problem of trying to compete with Disney.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:28am

        Re: Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

        "5) Winding up, you dissolve into vagueness, haven't pursued the key fact of whether Foster is on solid ground here."

        If an author is not on solid ground because his rights to profit from his work were taken away from him several decades after he signed his contract due to business dealings he was not involved with, you have bigger problems than whether your imaginary strawmen are offering to pay the people who stole his royalties.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:10pm

      Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

      You break with your usual assertions that copyright runs too long -- Foster's crap "novelization" hack work was over 40 years ago -- just in order to attack Disney.

      So you are actually defending a pirate? A corporate pirate? Do always argue against your own arguments?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:02pm

        Doesn’t he also believe corporations have no rights? I mean, under that belief, Disney couldn’t even enforce any of the copyrights it owns.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:25am

      Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

      "You break with your usual assertions that copyright runs too long -- Foster's crap "novelization" hack work was over 40 years ago"

      No contradiction here, except in the mind of a moronic troll. It's possible to state that copyright terms are way too long AND insist that artists get paid under the current copyright regime.

      But, 2 things to note here - you have dived in to defend a corporation actually stealing from an artist. This is common for you - you while lie and distort to pretend people here support piracy because of some imagined lost income, but when we have an example of actual theft from an artist, you defend the thieves.

      The second is that in order to make your point, you are even lying about the author's work (who, it has to be noted, you attack personally rather than address the issue at hand). While Foster did write 2 Star Wars novels in the 70s, he has written a total of 4 Star Wars novels and one short story, including one that he's being ripped off here from 2002. He also wrote books on other Fox properties now owned by Disney, including 5 Alien Adaptations and the novelisation of Alien Nation. All of which should attract royalties if they are still selling his work.

      Once again, you support outright theft by corporations, and have no desire to let facts get in the way of your support for criminal activity. But, you would rather lie about and attack the victim of theft than admit that support criminal enterprises so long as they are stealing real, rather than imaginary, money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:50am

        Re: Re: Know who else isn't paying royalties? ... PIRATES.

        "Once again, you support outright theft by corporations, and have no desire to let facts get in the way of your support for criminal activity..."

        Except when the "corporations" are NOT specifically publishers, at which point those corporations need to justify their existence by proving their benefit to the public.

        What I really find hilarious about Baghdad Bob is the way he keeps see-sawing between extreme right-wing fascism and pure, unadulterated Maoism entirely depending on which corporation we're currently talking about.

        I guess if a person has no principles at all it's difficult to call that person a hypocrite. It's odd, though, because humans generally develop basic principled thinking around the same time as they develop the concept of object permanence - which most children manage well before the age of two.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:04pm

    One or the other

    A contract is going to describe an exchange. If the company that originally held the rights is no longer paying the royalties, then the contract has been broken, and Disney no longer has the publishing rights. Disney needs to pick one or the other, either paying royalties to keep the publishing contract alive, or stop publishing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Cynyr (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:13pm

      Re: One or the other

      thought experiment here:
      1) Company A sells rights to newly formed company B for $1.
      2) Company B licenses the exclusive rights in perpetuity for a one time fee of $1
      3) Newly formed company B files for bankruptcy and closes the doors. leaving the work an orphan in terms of rights holder, but Company A still has exclusive publishing rights per the contract they signed with the last known owner.

      What is the recourse for anyone that should be owed money from Company B? And why should company A not owe the artist money? If the above works, then surely this would become the normal practice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: One or the other

        1) Company A sells rights to newly formed company B for $1.
        2) Company B licenses the exclusive rights in perpetuity for a one time fee of $1
        3) Newly formed company B files for bankruptcy and closes the doors. leaving the work an orphan in terms of rights holder, but Company A still has exclusive publishing rights per the contract they signed with the last known owner.

        Something similar is already common practice for other kinds of IP and good will, such as where a company buys the name of the business and sometimes the physical assets but not the rest of the business that has all the debt, which then goes bankrupt. But the "new" company looks identical to customers since from the outside it appears to have the same everything.

        To my mind, such a sale should be an illegal transaction because it is totally against the fiduciary duties of the company that is selling the assets. But Disney seems to think they can divide and sell Copyright the same way.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Ehud Gavron (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 4:22pm

          Asset Purchase

          There are many ways to do a merger or acquisition. Those include stock purchase (corporation), interest purchase (LLC, partnership, sole proprietorship), asset purchase (any), and a couple of others.

          In an asset purchase the assets are separated into a specifically delineated list. In other words it can't be written into the asset purchase agreement (APA) that it's "any and all assets." They must list them. They can expressly disclaim any liabilities, but that has to pass the smell test. There's a good discussion of this at:
          https://www.taftlaw.com/news-events/law-bulletins/successor-liability-risks-in-asset-purchase-ag reements

          The gist is that in SOME cases --yes-- the buyer can really buy the assets, leave the seller the liabilities, and then the seller can do whatever they like (usually go out of business through dissolution or bankruptch). In SOME cases an asset is explicitly tied to a liability so by buying the asset the liability is also assumed.

          If I had to guess, and I'm not a lawyer, in US copyright law (17 USC) there should be something, but a cursory look did not find it. Just because I say "there should be something doesn't mean there is."

          Likely ADF is right, and they're just letting him pound on the edge of the moat and they won't bring the bridge down even after his hands are bloody and his feet can't stand. I personally don't think the royalties can be divorced from the right to the work, as it's an ongoing right vs an ongoing royalty.

          If it was a one-time transaction "Look, ma, I bought this $20,000 widget on credit, and then sold the asset to John, and now I'll declare bankruptcy, and we can enjoy the widget for free" would be common. It isn't.

          In the end we'll see how this plays out. If I had to guess... he either gets an awesome legal team and they win, or he signs the NDA and they work something out.

          E

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:10pm

    It is possible that Lucas only "Licensed" the rights to Disney to publish his books, and Lucas still owns the rights, and therefore he owes ADF.
    However, if Disney is still publishing the books and not paying per the contract with ADF, isn't there something about copyright infringement, and statutory damages for each individual book they pirate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:21pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:45pm

    To be fair I'm surprised the author was even getting royalties from Lucasarts, considering for decades they have been claiming the movies didn't make a profit so they didn't have to pay royalties on them.

    At this point it would be more surprising if one of the legacy publishers actually paid out royalties without the person claiming them being forced to fight for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      zyffyr (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:54pm

      Re:

      There is a big difference. Movie royalties are generally based on profits. Book royalties are generally based on revenue - if the publisher is somehow losing money, they still owe the royalties.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:26am

      Re:

      "To be fair I'm surprised the author was even getting royalties from Lucasarts, considering for decades they have been claiming the movies didn't make a profit so they didn't have to pay royalties on them."

      I believe that book publishing has different terms that tends to actually pay royalties, and the success of the film has nothing to do with recouping the author's advance on the novels.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 19 Nov 2020 @ 12:57pm

    New business models in old markets..

    Hollywood accounting comes to the book publishing world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tribune (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 1:49pm

    this is what TSR did to SPI

    In 1982, TSR, the original publisher of "Dungeons and Dragons," succeeded in a similar scheme by claiming the "assets, but none of the liabilities" of SPI, Inc. as loan collateral.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 2:46pm

    Geometry

    Does nobody want to talk about how the "Mickey Mouse curve" isn't a curve?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeroen Hellingman (profile), 19 Nov 2020 @ 11:33pm

    All those obtaining the latest episode of The Mandalorian via The Pirate Bay can now feel a little less guilty.

    Buying the rights without the obligations, pretty interesting position. Why not do that in the first step and tell the author, we just bought the rights to your book for $ one million, so now you have to pay yourself. Could also apply in real estate, like a mafia boss: we just bought your house for $ one million, but you will have to pay it yourself. Opens up some options with regard to Disney property as well.

    If it is up to me, any failure to pay royalties should result in the reversal of the copyright back to the person the royalties are owed to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ehud Gavron (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 1:11am

      Buying real-estate

      When you buy a house, or a car, or a plane, or a boat, or any real-estate, the transaction is a one-time deal, so you pay, buyer gets paid, brokers make money, and all is good.

      If you want to equate real-estate with copyright residuals you could try "rental property." Someone owns rental property. You sign a lease. You pay monthly. You get to stay there. If you quit paying, you are out of there.

      Except there are two important differences that make that an unfortunately bad analogy. 1) With copyright you don't "live there" so you can't be "thrown out". 2) If the owner sells the house the seller is supposed to assume the obligations (i.e. "honor the lease") but YOU are not a party to that agreement. So they may choose to throw you out, but YOUR agreement with old-owner is still in force.

      Of course without seeing the contract transferring copyright and providing for residuals [and I am not a lawyer] I won't opine further on the specifics.

      Hollywood has a reputation, and the music studios do too, and TD has covered it quite extensively. Is it POSSIBLE that in this ONE CASE they did the artist (ADF) a solid and "it just didn't work out; lose my number"? Sure, it's possible.

      It's more likely they shuffled assets and are bluffing. He needs a good legal team (Disney can't be shamed into "doing the right thing"... they're a publicly traded corporation started by an anti-semite racist ruthless businessman who wanted to prey on children).

      Even if ADF did get a great legal team would this stop Disney from doing this to other artists (and it's more than just authors... think music composers, set designers, etc.). Disney can hire as many lawyers as Donald can, and create more legal noise, until any rational brain will overload and crash.

      The legal nuance of being able to sell the copyright but not the requirement to provide the residuals... isn't "baffling"... it's "blatant conversion". That gets proven in front of a jury.

      E

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 2:46am

        Re: Buying real-estate

        "...they're a publicly traded corporation started by an anti-semite racist ruthless businessman who wanted to prey on children..."

        And like european statesmen and other american businessmen of yore, whitewashed and presented as the Apex of what a successful businessman ought to be.

        Henry Ford. Hugo Boss. Walt Disney. Today names conjuring visions of success, wealth, and high society or feel-good cozy home environments complete with laughing children and gently smiling old folk. The american dream.

        Rooted, as it turns out, in Nazism, anti-semitism, and some frankly horrible business practices more resembling those of a mobster downing his competition with a nail bat and a straight razor than in financial acumen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 12:59pm

    LOL at the notion that Disney believes while it paid for the rights and the property to sell the books it never assumed liabilities. This is what kills me with Hollywood and their copyright enforcement and how they are fighting to make sure their creators get paid for their works, except they routinely screw their creators and find endless way to NOT pay them their due.

    It was one of the reasons I loathe and take a very jaded view of their claims of how they are fighting for their members, no they are fighting for the major movie studios publishers and record companies... this is who they are really fighting to get money for, not the people down the chain

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Nov 2020 @ 4:05pm

      Re:

      Always remember that while fighting for overbearing enforcement on piracy to "protect filmmakers", studios were at the same time claiming that films like The Empire Strikes Back and Forrest Gump have never made a profit, so that they can avoid paying royalties.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 23 Nov 2020 @ 7:39am

    not an obligation

    Disney is claiming that it purchased "the rights but not the obligations" to these works.

    It's fine to say they only purchased the rights and not the obligation but that doesn't mean all the rights they purchased somehow magically become unlimited unrestricted and unconditioned.

    They could not have bought the right to sell books without paying royalties and retain 100% of the profits if the original companies didn't have that right to sell in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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