Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski is seeking approximately $16 million in copyright royalties from “The Witcher” game developer CD Projekt Red.
Sapkowski’s “Wiedźmin” novels and short stories are the basis for CD Projekt’s popular role-playing game franchise. The studio acquired rights for the series in the early 2000s and paid Sapkowski an undisclosed lump sum. It then put out three main “Witcher” titles and a digital collectible card spinoff called “Gwent.” The games were a big success, selling over 33 million copies globally by the end of 2017.
Now, Sapkowski’s lawyers argue in a letter to CD Projekt Red that the deal was for the first “Witcher” game only, and all of the other games, including their expansions and DLC, are unlawful. Sapkowski should get at least 6% of the profits, they said, which amounts to at least 60 million Polish Zlotys.
Although Sapkowski and his lawyers say they want to settle the issue in an amicable and quiet manner, they also say they’re “determined and prepared to see this matter through to a fully successful conclusion,” which hints at a lawsuit.
CD Projekt issued its own letter in response to Sapkowski’s claims on Tuesday, calling them “groundless.”
“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 said.
“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.”
Sapkowski admitted he was “stupid” for selling the rights for a one-time payment in an interview with Eurogamer last year. “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,” he said.