It’s a well-known fact by now that Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski opted for a lump sum rather than a percentage of the game series’ profits. Now, it appears that Sapkowski is regretting that decision more than ever after a letter on his behalf was sent to CD Projekt demanding more money.
According to CD Projekt’s official statement released today, Sapkowski expects to be paid “beyond what has been contractually agreed upon.” Additionally, the announcement says:
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.
CD Projekt released a strongly-worded letter written by an attorney on Andrzej Sapkowski’s behalf that they were sent. Please note that it is translated from Polish to English, so the exact wording may not be entirely accurate to the original format. While you can read the entire letter yourself right now, I’ll outline some of the main points below.
Sapkowski is seeking a total of 60 million Polish Zlotys. In United States currency, this converts to approximately 16 million USD. Sapkowski’s attorneys cite Article 44 of Poland’s Act on Copyright and Related Rights. This article states that should there be a large difference between the money the author is given and the party they grand their rights to, the author can request more money.
Later in their letter, they cite Article 43 of the same law. This article is split into two parts, but the second seems to apply to this case:
If the contract does not specify the author’s remuneration, such remuneration shall be set taking into account the scope of the right granted and the benefits resulting from the use of the work.
The letter also says that Sapkowski’s legal team has been working on this case for “a fairly long time” and that their request for 60 million Zlotys “is not an everyday occurrence.” Further, they seem to imply that should Sapkowski not receive payment, it could mean “a decrease in stock prices significant enough to exceed the demands formulated in this notice.”
CD Projekt’s legal basis is Article 17 of the Market Abuse Regulation. It appears that both parties are willing to fight it out. Sapkowski’s legal team is willing to take the matter outside of court, and CDPR’s statement says they want to resolve it amicably, but it may be neither party are willing to give in.
Regardless of who has the legal high ground, this is no good for either party. Now, I must say that I’m by no means an expert on law, let alone Polish and EU copyright law. I am aware of the story that Sapkowski decided to take the money upfront rather than a percentage of sales, which he regrets to this day. If anything, that has to be a motivating factor.
Is Sapkowski’s lawsuit valid? Should the matter be settled outside of court? Let us known in the comments below!