The Witcher Author Wants $16 Million From CD Projekt Red

The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski has sent developer CD Projekt Red a demand for payment, with the writer wanting “at least” 60 million PLN (roughly 16 million USD) for the company’s use of the property. According to Sapkowski’s legal team, the author’s agreement with CD Projekt Red does not cover future works beyond the first The Witcher game. Sapkowski’s initial deal saw him signing The Witcher over to CD Projekt Red without obtaining a share of the profits. Considering how much revenue the series has now generated, Sapkowski wants CD Projekt to hand over the money he feels he is entitled to.

CD Projekt Red, currently working on the open-world RPG Cyberpunk 2077, posted the demand for payment to its official site. This demand includes the figure that Sapkowski is expecting to retrieve from the studio, which comes in at $16.1 million. CD Projekt Red stated that it believed the claims were “groundless” and that it had legitimately acquired the license to The Witcher.

An excerpt from the demand for payment detailing Sapkowski’s claims is as follows:

“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.

The abovementioned clause is, first and foremost, unconditionally binding (J. Barta, R. Markiewicz, Ustawa o prawie autorskim i prawach pokrewnych (ed.) J. Barta, R. Markiewicz, Warsaw 2003, p. 364), and furthermore it may be invoked when the compensation remitted to the author is too low given the benefits obtained in association with the use of that author’s work. Notably, the latter condition is considered fulfilled if the compensation remitted to the author is too low by a factor of at least 2 (T. Targosz [in:] D. Flisak (ed)., Prawo autorskie i prawa pokrewne. Komentarz, Warsaw 2015, p. 685).”

CD Projekt Red stated that it would “go to great lengths” to ensure that the dispute was settled amicably, with it wanting to “maintain good relations” with Sapkowski. It is unclear if this means that CD Projekt Red plans to strike up a deal with the author.

Reports have previously surfaced suggesting that Sapkowski sold his rights to The Witcher for an incredibly low amount. In a post on Facebook (via NeoGAF) back in 2017, former head of CD Projekt Red Sebastian Zielinski noted that Sapkowski had sold the rights to the first The Witcher game for 35000 PLN — around $9,500. The Witcher series has sold over 33 million units accumatively, with The Witcher 3 earning three times as much revenue as The Witcher 2, which itself outsold the first The Witcher game.