The author of The Witcher book series has threatened CD Projekt Red with a lawsuit if the studio doesn’t pay him more money. Andrzej Sapkowski has demanded up to $16.1 million in royalties from CD Projekt Red (via Kotaku).
Sapkowski’s lawyers told CD Projekt Red that Polish copyright laws, specifically Article 44, prove that the author is owed royalties based on the fact that the video game series has outperformed expectations. In turn, the original amount Sapkowski was paid for the license is no longer sufficient under the law, according to Sapkowski’s lawyers.
CD Projekt Red acknowledged the public demand with a statement denying that it owes Sapkowski additional compensation. “In the Company’s opinion the demands expressed in the notice are groundless with regard to their merit as well as the stipulated amount,” CD Projekt Red wrote.
It’s unclear how much Sapkowski was initially paid for the license. He sold the license to CD Projekt Red in the early 2000s for a flat fee. In 2017, Sapkowski told Eurogamer his reasoning behind taking a flat fee. The author didn’t expect the games to take off, so he went with a one-time payment rather than receiving royalties.
“I was stupid enough to sell them rights to the whole bunch,” Sapkowski said. “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.”
Though he described the payment as a “big bag of money,” it’s obvious that he doesn’t believe that to be the case now given the success of the series.
While the first two games in The Witcher series were merely modest successes, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became a smash hit following its 2015 launch. By the end of 2017, the series had sold 33 million copies worldwide, anchored by massive sales numbers for the brilliant conclusion to the trilogy.
The first Witcher novel, The Last Wish, was released in Polish in 1993. The book series didn’t start appearing in English until 2007, the same year the first game launched. Season of Storms, the eighth book in the series, released earlier this year in English.
As you can probably tell, the video game series has undoubtedly helped Sapkowski gain a wider audience. Additionally, a live action Netflix series starring Henry Cavill is in the works.
Sapkowski’s lawyers have given CD Projekt Red until October 19 to start negotiating royalty payments.
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