A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, authors of Star Wars novels received royalty checks for their work. But that practice apparently ended around 2012.
Now, the empire is poised to strike back, as a group action by authors of the Star Wars adaptations and other franchises are going public. They claim that Disney has refused to pay royalties on book contracts since it absorbed Lucasfilms in 2012 in a $4 billion deal, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
These writers say Disney has either delayed dealing with their complaints or stiffed them on checks that rarely total a few thousand bucks apiece. And the Star Wars franchise isn’t the only source of trouble.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America association claims other authors of books tied to projects from Indiana Jones to Buffy the Vampire Slayer came forward with similar stories of non-payment, all under similar circumstances to the Star Wars issue. Once Disney acquired the properties, the checks were no longer in the mail.
The WSJ report says divining how much money may be owed is complicated, as sales and royalties for the books involved have fluctuated wildly over time.
A Disney spokesman told the WSJ, “We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case.”
At least a half dozen writers across a range of Disney-owned properties have reported that no checks have been received, said Mary Robinette Kowal, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.