You’d think that their success would have made Andrzej Sapkowski a wealthy man (or a wealthier one), but apparently not: by his own admission, when CD Projekt Red asked him for permission to use his IP, he did the “stupid” thing and took the upfront payment rather than a percentage of sales, which meant he lost what was easily a couple million dollars due to his lack of faith in the project.
So now he’s gone to CD Projekt Red, lawyers in tow, and demanding an extra $16.1 million in compensation. And he’s prepared to go to court over it, too, with his lawyers saying that Article 44 of Poland’s 1994 copyright law states that copyright holders can demand more money if they were paid substantially less than the true value of the copyright. They also stated that the contract was only valid for the first game: not the sequels, or the DLC.
CD Projekt Red has heartily dismissed these claims, saying:
"[CD Projekt] 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."
And, bluntly, they’re right. No one but the involved parties has actually seen the contract in question, but if they had broken it by releasing the second game, we would have heard about it earlier. Plus, while it is likely true they paid far less than the IP is worth now, at the time the deal was struck, the Witcher IP was not nearly as valuable – they made it valuable when they released those three games.
But while this is a blind cash grab by Sapkowski, and CD Projekt Red is obviously within their legal rights, it seems likely that the company will still give him some form of compensation regardless. After all, they still actively use The Witcher IP, and it would make sense for them to stay on good terms with the original creator, even if he has stated time and time again he has no interest in the Video Games.
Although he clearly has interest in the money they make.