According to CD Projekt Red’s website, Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski — writer of the famous Witcher book series — has officially demanded the game developer pay him royalties amounting to over $16 million. In its announcement, the developer expressed its intent to settle this dispute amicably in a way that respects the initial agreements and hopefully maintains a good relationship with the author, though it is the opinion of CD Projekt Red that these demands are “groundless with regard to their merit and the stipulated amount.”
Sapkowski sold the rights for the story and characters of The Witcher to CDPR in the early 2000s. This resulted in a trilogy of highly successful Witcher video games and the spinoff game Gwent. Though the company offered royalties to the author, Sapkowski demanded one lump sum. The author revealed in an interview with Eurogamer that he came to regret that decision after the notable success of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and earned approximately $270 million in revenue after its first year.
Article 44 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights — which is referenced in the call for payment — implies that, regardless of the fact a transaction had already been completed, the author may legally demand payment on the grounds that CDPR has earned substantially more through association with Sapkowski’s work than he received as compensation. The document also states that, according to signed agreements between the developer and the author, CDPR only paid the lump sum for the right to use Sapkowski’s story and characters in one video game, meaning Sapkowski is owed royalties for subsequent games. The demand therefore calls for “6% of the profits obtained” by CDPR and Witcher-related properties with an apparent focus on the earnings gained through The Witcher 3 and its expansions (Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine).
As of yet, there has been no official reply from CD Projekt Red. The deadline for a response, given in the demand, is October 19th, after which it states that Sapkowski and his plenipotentiaries will proceed with litigation.
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