The author of the Witcher novels demands more money. Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of the Witcher novels that the popular game series is based on, has sought legal action against CD Projekt (parent company of CD Projekt Red), seeking more money. In a letter published by CD Projekt, his lawyers stated his demand for 60 million PLN, roughly $16 million USD or 14 EUR. As Andrzej Sapkowski seeks more money, his lawyers provided the following statement:
As is known, you have concluded several agreements concerning the use of Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski’s work; however, these agreements cannot (even assuming that they contain the relevant provisions) effectively indemnify you against future claims by the Author. This is due to the fact that the basis for the claims herein expressed (while not the sole basis, and not the most problematic one – from your perspective) is Art. 44 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights.
They go on to further explain the legal issues they are focusing on and make a very interesting closing note:
Both we and you are, after all, fully aware of the fact that even going public with a copyright claim may negatively impact the Group’s reputation and further growth. This is particularly true if the claim concerns your core activity and your most important product… We can reasonably expect that the negative consequences of the fact that Mr. Sapkowski has not received his due compensation, and furthermore, that the validity of your copyright contracts has been called into question, may translate into a decrease in stock prices significant enough to exceed the demands formulated in this notice.
This is why, as of now, we have not publicized the fact that we had undertaken the matter in question, and, naturally, the type and extent of the claims themselves. We believe and assume that you will appreciate this circumstance and that it will help us conclude the matter in a short time.
While they did not make the claims public, CD Projekt did.
CD Projekt responded, stating the following:
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.
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.
When CD Projekt first acquired the rights to adapt the Witcher novels into a series of games, Andrzej Sapkowski insisted on a lump sum payment instead of the usual percentage based on profits, as he didn’t believe the games would be successful.
I’m not sure of the legal standing here, though given CD Projekt’s response they don’t seem overly perturbed. It’s surprising this kind of dispute has happened after this much time, especially with the upcoming Netflix Witcher series. The novels are the major source of income for Sapkowski and even with the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher is the brand CD Projekt has built itself on, so it’s in both parties’ best interests to resolve this quickly. I imagine things will be resolved without ever reaching court. Still, we’ll have to wait for more updates on the situation.