Disney Won’t Pay Royalties to Legendary “Star Wars” Writer Alan Dean Foster

Science fiction novelist Alan Dean Foster is demanding years of unpaid royalties from The Walt Disney Company. According to an open letter published to the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website, Disney is delinquent on his royalty payments.

Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, Foster wrote the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope. He also penned the first Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. According to Foster, Disney stopped paying royalties for both novels.

Foster also wrote the novelizations for Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. That film franchise was owned by 20th Century Fox, which Disney also now owns. He is not receiving royalties for those novels, either. Disney’s argument is that they have purchased the rights, but not the obligations of the contract. 

SWFA and Foster held a press conference today on Facebook to discuss the situation.

According to Foster:

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 [sic] (though it’s not small to me) share.

Alan Dean Foster

In his letter, Foster goes on to state that Disney wants him to sign a non-disclosure agreement and ignores requests from Foster’s agents.

Both Foster and his wife have medical issues that come with serious financial need.

My wife has serious medical issues and in 2016 I was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer.  We could use the money.  Not charity: just what I’m owed.  I’ve always loved Disney.  The films, the parks, growing up with the Disneyland TV show.  I don’t think Unca [sic] Walt would approve of how you are currently treating me.  Maybe someone in the right position just hasn’t received the word, though after all these months of ignored requests and queries, that’s hard to countenance.  Or as a guy named Bob Iger said….

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

Alan Dean Foster

SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal gives Disney three choices:

  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.

Claims like these against Disney are not new. Less than a month ago, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott filed a copyright and fraud suit against Disney after the children’s series was rebooted.

What are your thoughts on Disney’s alleged treatment of Alan Dean Foster? You can share your thoughts in the comments.