Pluralistic: 19 Nov 2020

Originally published at: https://pluralistic.net/2020/11/19/disneymustpay/


Today's links



Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk (permalink)

Today on the Attack Surface Lectures (a series of 8 panels exploring themes from the third Little Brother book, hosted by Tor Books and 8 indie bookstores): Cyberpunk & Post-Cyberpunk with Christopher Brown and Bruce Sterling, which Anderson's hosted on Oct 19.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLlfrayuKAw

You can watch it without Youtube's surveillance courtesy of the Internet Archive:

https://archive.org/details/asl-cyberpunk

Or get the audio as an MP3:

https://archive.org/download/asl-cyberpunk/Cyberpunk%20with%20Bruce%20Sterling%20and%20Christopher%20Brown.mp3

Earlier instalments in the series:

I. Politics and Protest (with Eva Galperin and Ron Deibert, hosted by The Strand):

https://craphound.com/attacksurface/2020/11/16/the-attack-surface-lectures-politics-and-protest-fixed/

II. Cross-Media Sci-Fi (with Amber Benson and John Rogers, hosted by the Brookline Booksmith):

https://craphound.com/attacksurface/2020/11/17/the-attack-surface-lectures-cross-media-sci-fi/

III. Race, surveillance and tech (Meredith Whittaker and Malkia Devich-Cyril, hosted by The Booksmith):

https://craphound.com/attacksurface/2020/11/18/the-attack-surface-lectures-intersectionality-race-surveillance-and-tech-and-its-history/

Here's a master post with all the media as it is goes live:

https://craphound.com/news/2020/11/16/attack-surface-lectures-master-post/

And you can also get this as it's posted on my podcast feed – search for "Cory Doctorow podcast" in your podcatcher or use the RSS:

https://feeds.feedburner.com/doctorow_podcast



Disney stiffs writer (permalink)

Alan Dean Foster is an sf legend – a writer who produced a shelf of original novels but also made a reputation novelizing movies and TV from Star Wars to Aliens, turning out books that transcended quickie adaptations, becoming beloved bestsellers in their own right.

Disney now owns a bunch of these books, thanks to their acquisitions of Lucas and Fox, and these books continue to sell briskly. Disney not only isn't paying Foster any royalties for these books – they're refusing to even issue him royalty statements.

https://www.sfwa.org/2020/11/18/disney-must-pay/

Disney has blackholed Foster's agents and lawyers, and also the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA); to the extent that they have communicated with him, they have espoused a radical (jaw dropping) copyright theory.

This is Disney's theory: When they bought Lucas and Fox, they acquired the copyright licenses that enabled them to sell the Foster's books – but not the liability, the legal obligation to pay him for his books.

As SFWA president Mary Robinette Kowal says, this theory could absolutely upend the nature of copyright itself. Any publisher that wanted to go on making money from an author without paying them could simply sell the rights to a sister company, which then denies any obligations.

Foster brought his case to SFWA's grievance committee – a group that has worked on my behalf in the past, extracting a fee from a multinational publisher that commissioned and accepted a story from me but then offered an odious and unacceptable contract they refused to amend.

Usually griefcom work happens in the background: a SFWA member goes to griefcom, griefcom goes to the publisher, the publisher settles. This is the first time in more than a decade that SFWA has gone public with a complaint.

To be fair, Disney did offer to meet with Foster, but demanded that he sign an NDA prior to any negotiation. This is Not Normal. Sometimes the OUTCOME of a negotiation is confidential, but you don't go into a negotiation under NDA.

Disney appears to be taking a page from the cartoonish villain Scooter Braun, who refused to meet with Taylor Swift about buying back the rights to her masters without an NDA.

https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1328471874318311425

Foster's case is a gross injustice. He has cancer and his wife is ill. He wrote these books, Disney bought them. They're making money from them. They owe him money. Period.

But beyond the individual injustice being visited upon Foster, Kowal and SFWA worry that this represents a suite of new, corporate anti-writer tactics: flipping assets without liabilities, refusing to talk about it without an NDA.

You can follow Foster's case with the #DisneyMustPay hashtag. If you're a writer facing similar tactics (even if you're not a SFWA member), they're seeking your story, via this form:

https://airtable.com/shrr2S8rs4pcokske



Tyson execs bet on covid spread in unsafe plant (permalink)

Remember last April, when US meatpacking giants like Tyson were the epicenter of runaway superspreader events that slaughtered the poor, precarious, racialized workers who toiled under brutal and unsafe conditions?

One of the hardest-hit was Tyson's Waterloo, IA plant (the largest meat packing plant in America), where workers were denied PPE, forced to work without social distancing, and where more than 1,000 of them contracted covid. Many died.

One of the dead is Isidro Fernandez. In a wrongful death suit, his lawyers revealed details of Tyson's abuse of its workers that shock the conscience, like the fact that manager Tom Hart ran a betting pool on how many workers would contract covid.

https://iowacapitaldispatch.com/2020/11/18/lawsuit-tyson-managers-bet-money-on-how-many-workers-would-contract-covid-19/

The suit also claims senior manager John Casey told supervisors that they were required to report for work even if they had symptoms, calling covid a "glorified flu." He forced a supervisor to cancel a testing appointment, saying "We all have symptoms – you have a job to do."

A worker who was so sick he vomited on the line was ordered back to work the next day.

As conditions in the plant deteriorated, Tyson managers stopped visiting the floor altogether in a bid to protect themselves. Instead, they delegated to inexperienced supervisors.

They also told workers they would only be eligible for a $500 "thank you bonus" if they reported for every shift they were scheduled to work, regardless of whether they were sick and contagious.

All of this was justified – by Tyson and its enablers in the GOP – as a necessary, regrettable part of keeping America fed during the lockdown. But Tyson's breakneck meat-packing wasn't primarily domestic: they were serving the Chinese market.

Chinese meat-packers had largely been mothballed to spare workers from the virus; as a result, the company was able to increase its exports to China by 600% during Q1-2020.

But this isn't the story that Tyson's execs told Governor Kim Reynolds when they lobbied for exemptions from liability for the employees they maimed and murdered during the same period – they claimed it was all patriotic zeal to feed America.

The case has moved to federal court, thanks to Trump's invocation of the Defense Production Act, which ordered Tyson to stay open during the lockdown.



This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago TSA confiscates heavily-armed soldiers’ nail-clippers https://redstate.com/erick/2010/11/18/another-tsa-outrage-n37064

#5yrsago Manhattan DA calls for backdoors in all mobile operating systems https://web.archive.org/web/20151120003032/https://www.manhattanda.org/sites/default/files/11.18.15%20Report%20on%20Smartphone%20Encryption%20and%20Public%20Safety.pdf

#1yrago Coop’s tribute to Randotti Skulls, from the golden age of Haunted Mansion merchandise https://memex.craphound.com/2019/11/18/coops-tribute-to-randotti-skulls-from-the-golden-age-of-haunted-mansion-merchandise/



Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: JWZ (https://www.jwz.org/blog/).

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 513 words (85767 total).

Currently reading: The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 23) https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/11/16/someone-comes-to-town-someone-leaves-town-part-23/

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

How do you reconcile your love of Disney with shit like they’re pulling with Foster? Not the first time Disney has done evil, either.

I’m not saying this to point fingers at you, or accuse you of being a hypocrite. Or, rather, if you are a hypocrite, then I am too. I love Apple products and can’t break up with Facebook.

Also, I eat meat, despite knowing how cruelly some of the animals are raised. And my clothes and electronics are probably manufactured in sweatshops.

The list goes on and on. Not just me – everybody who lives in Western society.

If you want to address this here, or on Pluralistic, or in an article somewhere, I’d eagerly read that.

I always say I “love the sin and hate the sinner.” The art is good, the firm is not, and that is true of the majority of firms (studios, labels, ISPs, search engines etc).

I think the real answer is to conceive of yourself as a citizen (who advocates for controls over corporate conduct) not as a consumer (who punishes bad companies by only buying from good companies). I think consumerism - for all that it can be faster than citizenship - has reached its limits.

I don’t think Disney is made up of especially evil people: I think that the fairytale of fiduciary duty to shareholders, combined with loose rules for the company’s conduct, combined with the company’s lack of competition, combined with the difficulty of punishing wrongdoing, leads ALL companies to tend towards monopolistic abuse.

1 Like

Very insightful. Thank you.

I sometimes withhold my business from people and companies I consider evil, not because I think it will punish them, but simply because I’d rather reward others.

Case in point: Orson Scott Card. I loved his writing in the late 70s and 80s, but stopped reading him when he became a professional homophobe. I don’t think the $100-$200 I might have otherwise spent on his work will make any detectable difference to him. But there are plenty of other writers I can entertain myself with who are not so toxic.

Apropos of nothing: I never did love the Ender’s Game series. The novel was fine, but it didn’t knock me out.

Cory – OK with you if I point to, quote, and discuss this conversation on my blog and social media?

I want to talk about why I’m going to quit quitting Facebook. I have been very active on Facebook over the years, and have been more and more uncomfortable with it.

However, there is currently no substitute for the good Facebook does, and the solution for me is not to quit Facebook, but to use it for good – and to work politically to eliminate the regulatory supports that allow it to commit abuses.

Other people may choose to quit Facebook entirely, and I respect that decision. I only know a few people who have done that, and a good percentage of them say they have paid a heavy price. One said it’s like living without a phone.

I know a great many people who never joined Facebook, or who have accounts and use them rarely or not at all. Now, I tell those people. “Good for you. Keep it that way.” In the past I have told them other things.

Sure thing! Using FB to agitate for FB’s dismantling is also goo.

1 Like