The battle between CD Projekt RED and the author of The Witcher books is heating up. The later has filed a case, a demand of payment of $16 million in royalties from The Witcher games and related products.
CD Projekt RED acquired the rights to The Witcher series in early 2000’s when its creator Andrzej Sapkowski sold it for an undisclosed lump sum price. It is public knowledge that he didn’t have faith in his work and sold it for a rather discounted price. Once the series took off, selling 33 million copies by the end of 2017, his displeasure with the initial contact surfaced.
With Netflix picking up The Witcher, Andrzej further realized the potential of The White Wolf’s tale. He’s asking CD Projekt RED for royalties beyond the original agreement. The basis is section 44 of the contract law.
In the event of a gross discrepancy between the remuneration of the author and the benefits of the acquirer of author’s economic rights or the licensee, the author may request that the court should duly increase his remuneration.
Under section 44, Andrzej can ask for royalties in case there is a gross discrepancy between the lump sum paid to him and the profit made by CD Projekt RED. However, CD Projekt RED is calling his claim “groundless.”
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.
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.
It would up to a judge to decide whether or not there is a gross discrepancy. The law, at least article 44, does support Andrzej Sapkowski. But there is more to it than just the law. Andrzej was offered a share from the profit which he himself refused. In a statement provided to Eurogamer, Sapkowski said:
I was stupid enough to sell the rights to the whole bunch. The offered percentage from the profits and I said No.
They took whatever he could get from the studio at the time even though he was offered more. This could go against him in the court of law if this matter is presented before a judge.