of hollywood-accounting department
There are all sorts of silly, made-up reasons to be mad at Disney, but those shouldn’t take away from the many legitimate ways that Disney is such a terrible, horrible company. For years, he was one of the most aggressive in pushing for ever-expanding copyrights, and was one of the leading lobbyists pushing to expand copyright in all sorts of directions. To be honest, over the last two decades some of the other big Hollywood/media companies have gotten even more aggressive than Disney, but Disney has certainly remained awfully aggressive.
And, of course, every time someone pushes back against this aspect of Disney’s colonizing culture, they pull out the copyright owner’s favorite justification: “we’re doing this for the artists.” Time and time again we see the big TV and movie studios, the giant record labels and the biggest publishers pretending they have to fight for ever-broader copyrights to help the actual creators – while doing absolutely everything they can to avoid paying anyone. Nothing at all.
Even for those of us keenly aware of the nature of ‘Hollywood accounting’, the story that came out at the end of 2020 was still stunning. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has launched a campaign on behalf of famed author Alan Dean Foster – who wrote many of the early Star Wars books. Disney had claimed that by buying the Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, it only bought the assets and none of the responsibilities, and therefore, according to Disney’s lawyers, it could continue to publish the books written by Foster without pay any fees.
Now that’s a whole thing. Indeed, if you could do that, well, it would seem to create quite a lucrative business opportunity. Sign up a group of creatives for publishing deals. Hell, promise them extremely high royalty rates (you’re not going to end up paying them, so who cares?), then once the deals are done, sell the “assets” but not the “liabilities” of your business to a different entity, allowing them to continue publishing and you never have to pay royalties. Genius! Pure evil. But, genius.
But it seems particularly richer than Disney, which has spent so many decades insisting it fight the good fight to help “creative artists” do just that. Recently, the SFWA released an update on the campaign, noting that while Disney has agreed to pay some high-profile authors, it still refuses to pay for lesser-known authors:
You paid certain authors what you owed them. But there are other creators you don’t want to talk about. And, because you didn’t follow our advice, new creators show up who are also owed money.
You still refuse to acknowledge your obligations to lesser-known authors who have written media-related works for Marvel, for Star Wars, for Aliens, for Predator, for Buffy: TVS, and more, universes to which you have purchased the rights, as well as the obligations towards these creators. You’ve reposted their works, but you’ve failed even to do the bare necessities of contract and talent management. You have failed to pay these writers the royalties legally owed to them and you have failed to extend to them the courtesy of royalty statements and reprint notices.
Cory Doctorow also wrote an interesting article on this, noting how he exposes Disney’s blatant hypocrisy:
It’s shameful, and it underscores the void in Disney’s longstanding holy war to get us all to “respect copyright.” Disney respects copyright only to the extent that it serves as a charter for corporate abuse of creators, or a means by which Disney can reach beyond its corporate walls and dictate the conduct of its competitors or other industries. When it comes to copyright as a tool to secure the legitimate wages of creative workers, Disney shows contempt far beyond the taunts of The Pirate Bay or the recklessness of counterfeit DVD sellers. in a night market.
The power of copyright to create workers power has always been oversold, mainly by giant entertainment corporations who correctly understood that the more copyright creators got, the more copyright they could expropriate through the through non-negotiable contracts. Copyright is not useless for creators, but it is also no substitute for fair contract laws, labor organization and antitrust enforcement.
His article also looks at a few other ways Disney tries to use copyright to abuse, rather than help, artists.
Of course, I was curious what the organizations that claim to “represent creators” had to say about all of this, so I went to the CreativeFuture website. Their website insists that they are here to help “creative people”. They even have this incredibly ridiculous banner (which they apparently trademarked, because why not?)
So here’s a story where the industry literally refuses to pay creatives what they’re contractually owed, for their creations. Surely CreativeFuture has been talking about this attack on creator livelihoods, right? I mean, the organization even put together a whole hashtag campaign, #StandCreative, to claim that it “supports” creators. So surely they supported Alan Dean Foster and the SFWA and all the creators that Disney doesn’t pay, right? To the right?!?
Eh. I do not think so.
Instead, the headline article on their website…attacks EFF, the organization Cory Doctorow works for. Doctorow argues for artists to actually get paid, while CreativeFuture attacks its work and claims it actually supports creatives.
I wonder why CreativeFuture does not support these creative people? Hmm. I mean I am Of course that CreativeFuture’s board would be there on the front lines demanding that Disney pay the writers it owes, right? I mean, listen, let’s just take a randomly selected CreativeFuture board member and see…
So who is it? Oh, just the senior executive vice president, secretary and general counsel of the… oh…. The Walt Disney Company. Well. This explains that.
Well, I’m sure some of the other CreativeFuture board members would notice his conflict of interest and champion the actual creators, right? Hmm. There’s Leah Weil, the general counsel for Sony Pictures, so it won’t work. Oh, and Warner Bros. General Counsel John Rogovin (well, until recently). Well, I’m sure that other person, Kimberly Harris, will defend… oh, oh I see. General Counsel of NBCUniversal, you say?
Yes, yes, I’m beginning to understand why CreativeFuture apparently wants nothing to do with this real campaign to support real creators. It could interfere with the interests of the Hollywood studios that created CreativeFuture as a pure front group in the first place.
Filed Under: alan dean foster, copyrights, pay author, pay for creations, support creators
Companies: creativefuture, disney, sfwa