What’s the purpose of #DisneyMustPay and the Disney Task Force?
The Disney Task Force was formed to identify and guide authors who may be owed money due to the discontinuance of royalties and statements for media tie-in creative works. This issue first came to our attention because authors were not being paid for properties owned by Disney. Over time, we’ve discovered more authors have been similarly affected.
While Disney has demonstrated to us that they are not willing to investigate the issue without our involvement, this issue is not exclusive to them. We advocate for all authors whose contracts have not been honored. Ideally, new owners of a property would seek out affected writers to ensure contractual obligations continue to be met.
The Task Force is comprised of the following associations that advocate for writers and their rights: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., (SFWA), the Author's Guild, Horror Writers Association (HWA), International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), National Writers Union, Novelists, Inc. (NINC), Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Sisters in Crime, and the Writers Guild of America West.
How do I know if I’m affected?
You may be affected if your media tie-in work was under contract before, during, and after acquisition of your work’s property by Disney or another company. Typically, contracts affected include royalties and/or statements owed to you, the author.
If you are uncertain, we advise you to check to make sure the obligations of your contract are being fulfilled.
While not a complete list of properties that might be affected, we are currently aware of issues for these properties:
LucasFilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.)
Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
Dark Horse Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, etc.)
Marvel WorldWide (SpiderMan, Predator)
Disney Worldwide Publishing (Buffy, Angel)
Who do I contact if I am missing royalties and/or statements from a media tie-in contract?
Please fill out this form to report your missing royalties and/or statements. The form is hosted by SFWA, but the writer organization related to your field will work with you on next steps. You do not need to be a member of a writer organization to seek our help. Your privacy is important to us: we guarantee anonymity.
Aren’t these work-for-hire contracts?
Every contract for media tie-in work is different, and the obligations of each contract are different as well. Many authors have contracts for media tie-in work that include a royalty percentage for the sales of the work and/or sending the author or their representative statements reflecting those sales.
Have any affected authors been paid by Disney?
Disney has been responsive to a handful of authors we have sent their way. Unfortunately, this Task Force has needed to step in several times to ensure that the process continues. The particulars of each negotiation are between those authors, their representatives, and Disney.
If authors are being paid, then what’s the problem?
Disney is not taking the initiative to seek out authors whose contracts have been violated after a Disney acquisition. Because they refuse to set up an online FAQ and a clear, easy-to-find contact person or point for affected authors on their own licensing page, this Task Force must continue to make sure our members and the industry at large are aware of the problem. Writers must be paid what they are owed. If we allow contracts to be broken through the act of acquisition, then it has the potential to set a precedent that affects every author.
Why aren’t you calling for a boycott? Wouldn’t that get a stronger response?
Our ultimate goal is to make sure that writers are paid for their work. Many writers have contracts with Disney and/or are currently working on properties that Disney owns. Boycotting Disney could negatively affect those writers. We are here to support and advocate for writers, not undermine their livelihoods.
Disney has demonstrated that they will respond to public pressure to do the right thing; the proof is in the resolution to Alan Dean Foster’s case. They have taken steps forward with some of the other authors we’ve directed their way as well. The #DisneyMustPay campaign is working, but the pressure needs to be continually applied until Disney addresses the systemic issue of failing to honor authors’ contracts related to the properties Disney has acquired. Disney can do that by implementing the task force’s five goals.
ADDITIONAL FAQ FOR AGENTS
If my clients are currently receiving statements from Disney or Disney-affiliated companies, is everything OK?
Not necessarily. Some projects were acquired and rolled into the existing payment structure at the new company, regardless of the original terms. It is important to make sure that the original rights granted and the corresponding royalty rates are being honored, and that the new company has been communicative about any changes. In some cases, you may need to renegotiate with the new company to make sure any new or different terms adhere with the intent of the author’s original contract.
How do I know if everything is included on the statements my author receives?
With the shift in publisher, editions may have gone out of print or new editions may have been released. Check to see what’s on sale through regular trade channels. There may be new formats (ebooks, audiobooks, mass market), translations, or new products that include the original work in an omnibus.
My client’s work was part of an acquisition by Disney, but has a different publisher listed; should I approach that publisher first?
Some of the work-for-hire content is licensed by Disney to other companies, but Disney is responsible for paying the authors of the content they acquired. If the property is owned by Disney, it’s best to try Disney first.
What if statements show the correct works and formats, but the rates don’t match the author’s agreement?
In some cases, the new company may not have access to the original contract and will need the your help in locating those records to make sure they have the rights and are paying the correct royalties to your client, the author.
What if the author and I can’t find the original contract?
Some of these properties have contracts dating back several decades, and the paperwork may have been lost. Regardless, Disney still has to honor the contract if they want the right to use that work, including with works for hire. Start by asking Disney to share a copy of the contract they have on file to see if it matches the other records you have.
One or more of my clients is affected but I’m not sure who to contact at Disney, can you point me in the right direction?
Please fill out this form to report missing royalties and/or statements. The form is hosted by SFWA, but the writer organization related to your field will work with you on next steps. You do not need to be a member of a writer organization to seek our help. Your privacy is important to us: we guarantee anonymity.