Polish author of The Witcher series, Andrzej Sapkowski, feels he wasn’t paid enough money by game developer CD Projekt Red. He’s now asking to be compensated an additional $16.2 million USD for granting the company rights to his work.
CD Projekt Red publicly posted an English-translated version of the original notice they received on their website. According to the translation, Sapkowski expects to receive “additional royalties beyond what had been contractually agreed upon between himself and the Company.” CD Projekt Red has stated that the demands expressed are “groundless” in both their “merit as well as the stipulated amount.”
Sapkowski’s lawyers have cited Article 44 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights which “may be invoked when the compensation remitted to the author is too low given benefits obtained in association with the use of the author’s work.”
Based on Polish law, Sapkowski’s lawyers have determined that he should receive 6% of the profits obtained. Their calculations put the value of this at $60,000,000 Polish Zloty or roughly $16.2 million USD.
What sheds the most light on the current situation comes from Sapkowski’s own mouth. In an interview with Eurogamer (via Kotaku), Sapkowski refers to the moment CD Projekt Red approached him for the rights saying: “Well they brought a big bag of money! What I expect from an adaptation: a big bag of money. That is all.” At the time, it seems he was more than happy with the amount. Hindsight is a different issue however.
He later remarked:
“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.”
Based upon these statements, it’s pretty obvious that Sapkowski made an impulsive decision that led to him making substantially less money than he did, and now he’s upset about it. He didn’t believe the game could achieve great success and chose a lump sum instead of a share of the profits. Like a gambler losing a bet, Sapkowski now wants his money back from the casino.
Despite personal feelings on who is right or wrong here, the Polish law seems clear here. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of defense CD Projekt Red can come up with here if they are forced to go to court over the issue.
We’ll keep you posted on any updates on this story.
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