The author of the book "The Witcher" demanded at least $ 16 million from CD Projekt Red
In 1997, Andrzej Sapkowski sold the game studio CD Projekt Red full rights to use his book The Witcher for 35 thousand zlotys (approximately $ 9,500). He was offered a percentage of the sale of the game. But the writer doubted that the game would get some kind of profit, so he agreed to a “bag of money,” as he said then. For that time it was really big money: for comparison, the average salary in Poland then was 1000 zlotys per month ($ 270).
In principle, the writer had reason to argue pessimistically, because before this unsuccessful attempts to release the game based on the book were made by two other studios: Bulletstorm and Metropolis.
The writer was confident that he made a good deal. But in 2007 the hit hit "Witcher", which became one of the best games in its genre. By December 2008, 300,000 copies were sold . Then came the second part. And the third. The sales account went to millions.
Andrzej understood how much he was wrong.
On October 2, 2018, a payment request was registered on the Polish Stock Exchange, where game studio shares are traded . Legal representatives of Sapkowski require Warsaw's CD Projekt Red studio to pay a worthy reward to the writer, that is, standard royalties.
The question arises: why did Andrzej not immediately conclude a standard author's contract, why did he agree to such a modest sum of $ 9,500? A year and a half ago in an interview with Eurogamerhe explained the reasons: “I was stupid enough to sell them full rights,” he says. - They offered me a percentage of the profits. I said: “No, there will be no profit - give me all my money right now! All sum". That was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands, because I did not believe in their success. But who could foresee success? I could not".
Although the book was quite popular in Poland and some other countries, the writer did not believe in the success of the game. He even considered computer games stupid, based on his experience playing the old console, where he played some kind of shooter, killing the Martians: “Okay, let's play cards or drink vodka,” he said then, “but kill the Martians stupidly” .
From the 2017 interview, it appears that Andrzej has not changed his point of view, that is, he still considers computer games to be a stupid thing. However, this did not prevent him from demanding from the studio an increased amount of royalties.
On the specific financial terms of the contract with the writer in May 2017, the former head of CD Projekt Red, Sebastian Zhilinsky , spoke . He confirmed that the writer did not believe in the success of the game, refused the percentage of profit and demanded the entire amount at once.
Now Sapkowski changed his mind. His legal representative requires royalties from the company in the amount of standard 5−15%. The document provides a calculation based on a “conservative approach and minimum expectations”, and specifically at the rate of 6% of sales. According to lawyers, for the Witcher 3 series only, the royalty rate is 60 million zlotys ($ 16.03 million at the current rate).
According to Article 44 of the International Convention for the Protection of Copyright, the author may claim a revision of the conditions if the court considers the conditions of the original agreement to be unfair.
Studio representatives released a statementin which they reported that they should not pay Sapkowski anything beyond what they had already paid. They want to maintain good relations with the writer and will try to somehow resolve this situation, but they will be guided by previous agreements: “According to the company, the requirements expressed in this letter are unfounded both in terms of their nature and in the amount of the required amount. The company legitimately and legally acquired the intellectual property rights of Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski in those areas in which it was required for use in the games developed by the company, ”said the company's legal statement.
The fans generally did not endorse Andrzej’s claim. Many believe that it was necessary to initially agree on the percentage of sales that he was offered, and now the train has left. Someone jokes that in 20 years, Sapkovsky will file a lawsuit against Netflix Studios demanding to pay $ 100 million in royalties, saying that before he did not believe in the success of streaming services.
The shooting of the Witcher series based on the saga of Andrzej Sapkowski will start on November 5, 2018.
Now the writer is very sorry that he sold the rights for too modest amount. Judging by the interview, he generally regrets the sale of rights. Andrzej says that the Witcher will be known to the people of the future rather by the game, not by the books: “After 20 years,” he says, “someone will ask:” But this game about the witcher - who wrote the story? ”And no one will not know: "Someone wrote," they will answer. It seems that this is his main fear, and one can understand the author’s surprise and embarrassment when he meets many people who play The Witcher but have never heard his name.