Questions & Answers
About the Pern Dispute, New Questions will be added on the bottom so scroll down for new ones.
Question: Why did you file a lawsuit against Anne McCaffrey?
Answer: I had no choice, see the letter marked Exhibit D. Her attorney tried, and later was successful, to get me banned from Dragon*Con.
Question: But why sue? Can't you just work it out with them?
Answer: I'd have loved to. When Alec first contacted me I tried to do just that. I would have been perfectly willing to accept a minor compensation & acknowledgement in return for giving up the Pern goods. They sent me a Cease & Desist letter in response. I've offered several times to negotiate some sort of resolution to no avail. Once again, I've attempted to contact them, I doubt I'll get any response.
Question: It's been said that you disrupted Dragon*Con in order to serve the legal papers on Anne McCaffrey. Is this true?
Answer: That's another flat out lie. I specifically informed Patrick Henry, Chair & President of Dragon*Con that we would be serving her well in advance. I also specifically instructed the Process Server not to disrupt her panel in any way. I even sent one of my staff along to make sure. The Server waited until the panel was over and Anne was only with Todd & a few other people. He simply asked if she was Anne McCaffrey, to which she replied in the affirmative. He then said, "This is for you" handed her the papers and left. No one other than those in her immediate presence knew anything had even transpired. I have video tape to prove that by the way. Any reasonable person knows that this was the only practical way to serve the papers since she lives in Ireland.
Question: So did you lose the lawsuit?
Answer: No, it was dismissed on a technicality. The idiot attorney couldn't prove personal jurisdiction. Anne hid behind not having physically been in Michigan. Even though we proved that the online store Alec set up did business with Michigan customers, (which they IMMEDIATELY took down), it wasn't enough to prove Michigan courts had jurisdiction. The merits of the case were never even discussed. We should have and may still file it in Atlanta, GA. There would be no question of jurisdiction then.
Question: They say you're exceeding the permission you were given, can you explain that?
Answer: Sure, if you take a look at the documentation, you'll see that I was granted a license to produce leather goods using the artwork from The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern in quantities less than 100 pieces on any given run or item. That was the only stipulation that was agreed to. I voluntarily added the stipulation that 10% of the GROSS, not net, sales, not just the profits, would go to dolphin charities. Each year we've donated in excess of that amount. No other limits were agreed to, and no expiration date was involved. The Ph. D. who called me from SFWA.org tried to tell me that isn't a valid contract, I think he should stick to literature and leave legal opinions to the experts. Contracts written on cocktail napkins and even oral contracts have plenty of history of being both valid and enforceable. If they wish to make the argument that they didn't know they were entering into a contractual agreement then Bill should have never accepted & cashed that check, which he tried to lie about by the way, at least according to Jay Katz. Stupidity on their part does not constitute illegitimacy on my part. They've also tried to make the argument that Anne didn't give Bill the right to enter into this sort of agreement. Funny that she gave it her blessing, but if that's a problem, I'd think she'd be best taking it up with Bill instead of me.
Question: They say that both Bill Fawcett & Anne McCaffrey have told you to stop making these items and have revoked your permission. Why are you still insisting you have the right?
Answer: Because of principle. It's simple right & wrong. Fans have been slammed around for years. More than once, permission has been granted for things only to have Cease & Desist letters sent out without so much as a courtesy contact. When Alec contacted me, he informed me that my exercising my right to make Pern goods was mucking up a deal they were trying to put together for a movie. Apparently, they'd sold the rights for Pern merchandise and forgotten to disclose that there was an agreement with me. The company they were dealing apparently did their due diligence and found out about me. So between Alec & Jay Katz, they set out to intimidate me into oblivion. I don't intimidate.
Then they tried to smear me, and still are. Alec even told the Hosts of the Kitchen Table Bulletin Board to lie and say I was not legitimate, and I quote:
"In case you are wondering, Steve Austin is definitely not a legitimate license holder, as he claims, for Pern related leather goods. If you are asked, I would encourage you to say that you have heard he is not legitimate, but that you are waiting for final word from me. Years ago Austin received a very limited license to produce a limited amount of merchandise. He has since interpreted this as a full license to produce anything Pern-related in leather. He has hired an attorney to defend these rights and his attorney is quite a s**t-head. we may well have to litigate with Steve in the not too distant future.
Other than what I mentioned in my first paragraph, you have no specific action items in this area unless or until I tell you otherwise. Basically, I'd like to start working the rumour mill in the opposite direction. You can easily say "you heard" it wasn't true, giving you plausible deniability. If you have any questions about this please don't hesitate to post them here and/or email me. "
So here we have the webmaster of Worlds of Anne McCaffrey telling the staff to lie and say I have no license, but then admitting in the same post that I do. But hey, maybe he should have gone into politics, they love plausible deniability there.
We have NOT & will NOT exceed the license we were granted. Not a single item has exceeded 99 pieces and we keep careful records to that effect.
Question: They claim that you had no right to sell Pern merchandise on the Internet, so why are you?
Answer: No stipulation to that effect was ever agreed to in our contract. In fact, links were sent to Bill Fawcett, Jody Lynn Nye, & Anne McCaffrey to show them the goods we were producing. This argument only came about after they screwed up their merchandising deal. They want me off the 'Net so they can sell exclusive marketing rights for big bucks, it's all about greed.
Question: For so long, just the documentation about the lawsuit has been available, why now the Question & Answer section?
Answer: Because 2 months ago, Anne McCaffrey filed a formal grievance against me with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Today, August 24th, 2005, they posted a "Grievance Alert" on their website. I feel it necessary to counter this disinformation as best I can.
Question: So if this is all so mucked up and causing so much problem, why not just let them have the rights back?
Answer: Again, it's a matter of principle. I say what I mean, I do what I say. I fully expect other people to as well, especially someone who can be as influential as an author. At the very least, I expect to be treated with respect instead of the lies, deceit, and libel I've experienced at the hands of those acting in behalf of Anne McCaffrey, and I can no longer believe that it is done without her knowledge & blessing. I've done everything by the book in obtaining the permission to do these items. I've conducted myself in good faith and everything has been completely above board. They can NOT say the same. If they really want the rights back, I'd be more than happy to come to a settlement, but I will be expecting proper compensation for my expenses in this matter. They can contact me via email or even use the toll free number I have set up for the store. It would do their reputation with fandom a world of good to act like reasonable adults for a change.
Question: Posts have been made on some of the forums that "he thought he might make some more than he was allowed to that was the trouble, probably when he sniffed "money" when there was some talk about movie rights " and similar remarks. So is money your motivation for all this?
Answer: That's so ridiculous that it's almost laughable. I can assure anyone that this whole thing has never garnered a single dollar in profit for us. The only ones benefiting financially from this fiasco are the dolphins. I still to this day keep to my promise to donate at least 10% of the gross sales, in every case, we've actually donated in excess of that amount. It's my own belief that this property has been so tainted that no producer will even touch it. I have several acquaintances who work in the gaming industry and the feeling there is that Pern is dead as a viable property, at least until the amount of time passes as with the Tolkien works. I think the McCaffrey's have been their own worst enemy in this regard, and continue to be.
June 9th, 2006
I received several emails today from "fans" of Ms. McCaffrey. A few were merely inquisitive, some rather nasty, one in particular came very close to being considered threatening. For those of you who are monitoring this situation I'd like to make a few points.
1. Yes, I am aware that the Pern books have been optioned for film, (yet again), and that it may reopen this can of worms. I wish Copperheart the best of luck in dealing with these people. Options for this type of work happen all the time. As we've seen in the past, not much has come of it.
2. Despite some accusations to the contrary, I am NOT the one responsible for "holding up" Pern being made into a movie. I am a roadblock for the McCaffreys to sell anyone "exclusive merchandising" rights despite multiple attempts on my part to settle that amicably. Again, I repeat all they have to do is contact me and conduct themselves as civil adults instead of the sniping and slandering that's been the norm to date. Anne & those acting on her behalf created the hostile situation that now exists, it is their responsibility to fix it.
3. Threats will be taken seriously and passed along to the proper authorities for investigation & prosecution. I mean that 100%. I understand that some of these so-called "fans" are young and impetuous, but any threat against my person, family, or assets will be considered valid and acted upon swiftly & decisively. Any person such as the "fan" who emailed me today that wishes to: "drag your ass into the alley and finish this" will find that I am more than capable of dealing with such attempts.
4. I regret that this type of statement needs to be made, these sort of people diminish the Pern Fandom as a whole.
Feel free to email me with any other questions you folks would like answered about this. Those with chocolate get answered first! ;>
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