Polish gaming studio CD Projekt Red has made a name for themselves through their incredibly successful The Witcher series. While things have become tense between the development studio and the author of the original The Witcher novels, things have seemingly reached an amicable end between the two.
Most recently CD Projekt Red released the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PS4, Xbox One and PC. The third in the series, The Witcher 3 garnered massive sales numbers and has earned critical praise around the world. However, the game series is actually not the first thing to bear The Witcher name.
The Witcher is an original series of novels and short stories authored by Andrzej Sapkowski. However, Sapkowski sold The Witcher rights for video game development to CD Projekt Red for a lump sum.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Sapkowski stated “I was stupid enough to sell them rights to the whole bunch. They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all – give me all my money right now! The whole amount.’ It was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn’t believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn’t.”
Sapkowski has since come forward to demand $16 million in additional royalties. Taking to their official website, CD Projekt Red went on to offer a statement on the matter. Noting Article 44 of Poland’s 1994 copyright law, the studio stated the following “[Article 44] may be invoked when the compensation remitted to the author is too low given the benefits obtained in association with the use of that author’s work. All liabilities payable by the Company in association therewith have been properly discharged.”
Taking to their official website, CD Projekt Red has since stated that they believe the demand to be “groundless.”
“The Management Board of CD PROJEKT S.A. with a registered office in Warsaw, Jagiellońska 74, hereby announces that on 1 October 2018 the Company received an official demand for payment filed by plenipotentiaries of Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski.
“The notice indicates that Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski expects payment of additional royalties beyond what had been contractually agreed upon between himself and the Company. The contents of the notice are attached to this report.
“In the Company’s opinion the demands expressed in the notice are groundless with regard to their merit as well as the stipulated amount. The Company had legitimately and legally acquired copyright to Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski’s work, i.a. insofar as is required for its use in games developed by the Company. All liabilities payable by the Company in association therewith have been properly discharged.”
Sapkowski’s initial demand has since been posted by the gaming studio.
“I would also like to mention that we are aware not only of your intent to actually and legitimately (!) [sic] purchase all copyright from Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski, but also of specific offers which have been extended in this regard.”
“We are fully aware of the fact that the Author’s claim expressed herein is not a typical request, and that demanding payment of dozens of millions Polish Zlotys is not an everyday occurrence. We nevertheless wish to assure you that the case has been under preparation for a fairly long time, and that the Author is fully aware of the scenarios which may unfold depending on your actions. Even more importantly, both we and the Author are determined and prepared to see this matter through to a fully successful conclusion.”
Within their initial statement, CD Projekt Red noted that they are willing to pay Sapkowski additional royalties concerning The Witcher video game series. While not willing to adhere to the author’s initial demands, the gaming studio is willing to reach an amicable position with the writer.
“It is the Company’s will to maintain good relations with authors of works which have inspired CD PROJEKT RED’s own creations. Consequently, the Board will go to great lengths to ensure amicable resolution of this dispute; however, any such resolution must be respectful of previously expressed intents of both parties, as well as existing contracts.
“In the Company’s opinion receipt of the abovementioned demands meets the significance criterion due to the identity of the person submitting the demands.”