Sapkowski Reportedly Settles Witcher Lawsuit

AlphaAtlas

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Citing a paywalled report from Puls Biznesu, GameStar claims that Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of the original Witcher novels, has settled his lawsuit against Witcher game publishers CD Projekt. Sapkowski received about $2200 USD for the rights to the Witcher games, which he negotiated before the series became a massive hit, but asked for about $16.2 million in October 2018. The author even publicly admitted his mistake in an interview with Eurogamer, and apparently, he has settled for "less" than that $16.2 million he asked for. PCGamesN, who spotted the GameStar report, reached out to CD Projekt for more information, but I wouldn't expect a response today since it's fairly late in Poland right now.

When he sold the Witcher rights back then, Sapkowski did not believe in the success of the games. CD Projekt had even offered him a percentage of profit , but he preferred to get paid a fixed sum immediately. Today he regrets that: "It was stupid," he explained in 2017 in an interview with Eurogamer. "But who could have foreseen this success? Not me." By now he probably knows better, but he probably got a lot more for the rights of the Netflix series. He is also involved in this as a guide: "I make sure that Ed Sheeran does not sing anywhere."
 

sirmonkey1985

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yeah agree it was his fault but at the same time knowing you profited millions off their mistake a little compassion goes a long way especially with the player base and media. my bet is they went back and gave him 4-5% of the sales or something which is probably more than enough for his needs.
 

ThatsAgood1jay

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CDPR has a vested interest in not getting caught up in any litigation regarding the IP that really launched the company. Hopefully we'll see more Wticher games at some point, but Cyberpunk is looking good.
 

ChoGGi

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Really don't like the idea of take backs on a contract like this, but it does give me some hope for a new Witcher game from CDPR with a ton o active input from Sapkowski
If I recall from the last discussion, Poland does have a take backs clause in their copyright law if the creator is "under compensated".

I guess it'll depend on him liking money or his ego more (he didn't seem to have much of an interest in video games).
 

Seelenlos

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If I recall from the last discussion, Poland does have a take backs clause in their copyright law if the creator is "under compensated".

I guess it'll depend on him liking money or his ego more (he didn't seem to have much of an interest in video games).

The articles out there have done a poor job explaining that. I saw a few sites mention it when this started but most have ignored it.
I think the author is a moron but if they are settling it is probably because he had a case under their laws.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I feel for the guy. He made a bad decision, and sold off his baby for way less than it was worth.

I don't understand his grounds for a suit though. If you make a bad deal, that is on you, you can't blame everyone else. I just don't understand the grounds he sued under.

I think this should be a lesson to all creatives who sell their worlds to film or game deals. Always, always, ALWAYS include royalties as a fraction of revenue in your contract, or walk away.
 

greenman

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Who plays video games anyway? Clearly people will buy his book instead. Lol
It's nice that they settled and paid him anyway.
 

Kalabalana

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If the game flopped, would he be forced to give back the money he was paid?

Furthermore, and under similar consideration, is the game company getting the bulk of that money from this Netflix deal?
Since it only exists because of them?
Or is the author getting all of that, AND this settlement money?

Edit: Project Red is not tied to the TV series from what I could find. They should honestly sue this author in response to his own lawsuit. The TV series most certainly is income that should go to the game publisher, since they did all the work that made it happen.
 
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HockeyJon

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$2200?? Should have just asked for a percentage at least.

You’d be surprised how they can write contracts in a way to make that percentage a bad deal as well. Look at what the author of Forrest Gump made on that movie, where he negotiated a percentage of film profits but, thanks to Hollywood accounting, a process that can make any Hollywood blockbuster officially a money loser, he only received the up front money and $0 in profits, so I think all in all he walked away with something in the $300,000 range for a film that made multimillions.

Not saying that would happen here, just saying some of these guys need to be smarter or have better advisors in a negotiation.
 

Seelenlos

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I feel for the guy. He made a bad decision, and sold off his baby for way less than it was worth.

I don't understand his grounds for a suit though. If you make a bad deal, that is on you, you can't blame everyone else. I just don't understand the grounds he sued under.

I think this should be a lesson to all creatives who sell their worlds to film or game deals. Always, always, ALWAYS include royalties as a fraction of revenue in your contract, or walk away.

Here is the specific article in their copyright law.

"Article 44.
In the event of a gross discrepancy between the remuneration of the author and the benefits of the acquirer of author's economic rights or the licensee, the author may request that the court should duly increase his remuneration."

I don't remember where I saw it but one lawyer was saying it was basically to protect creators from the big bad corporations and Hollywood style accounting.
 

Ranma

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This is the same moron who went and said that the books made the game popular, when in fact his books weren't selling, and it wasn't until the game was released and became popular that his books started flying off the shelves in EVERY language. In my mind, he should get nothing, as he was paid everything he wanted. To go back and rescind that he seriously fucked up because of his hubris, is wrong. He even went as far as to say that the games cost him book sales! He even went so far as to say that English adaptions of his works were available BEFORE the first game was ever released. Fact is, it took 2 years after the game was released before english adaptions of his works were available.
 

Paladin21

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Dude wants to go back and renegotiate a bad contract? He related to the Winklevoss twins? They should hook up and teach him about bitcoin as the future of digital cash.
 

dvsman

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From what I read, CDPR also hired him on an ad hoc basis as a consultant for the games. So he made money from the first contract then a little bit here and there along the way consulting.

I feel bad for the dude as I really dig the game world, but there's nothing to stop you from being a dumbass when you sign a contract. That's why you get an agent/manager/xyz who knows what they're doing to handle it on your behalf.
 

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Flogger23m

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I think they offered that, but he declined because he thought the games would tank.

I assumed he was paid $50-100K or similar. $2200? He must have thought the first game would never see the light. Even at 1%, he would make 30 cents per copy sold at $30. Had the game sold 10,000 copies he would make well over $2200. He really must must have thought the studio would go under before they could sell a product.
 

dvsman

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Also keep in mind this was before Witcher 1 and no one had ever heard of Witcher or CDPR or anything like that.

In hindsight post Witcher 3 it's hard to believe but imagine trying to decide BEFORE Witcher 1 was even a finished product. Yeah, I can see the cash in hand vs possibly some imaginary money in the future.
 

DNMock

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Here is the specific article in their copyright law.

"Article 44.
In the event of a gross discrepancy between the remuneration of the author and the benefits of the acquirer of author's economic rights or the licensee, the author may request that the court should duly increase his remuneration."

I don't remember where I saw it but one lawyer was saying it was basically to protect creators from the big bad corporations and Hollywood style accounting.

That actually makes sense. Seen a lot of that kind of swindling in the past when it comes to rare collectibles. Would be nice to be able to backtrack when someone offers you $100 bucks for dad's old rust bucket in the garage when you find out it was actually a 1969 Shelby GT500 and the dude who begrudgingly offered you $100 to get rid of the scrap metal immediately turned around and sold it for $50,000.

edit: No, there isn't a U.S. law like that. Just remembered that there is a dude where I live who made a massive fortune by convincing farmers in Oklahoma to sell him the mineral rights to their land because he found a big oil reserve there in the 70's. Of course he neglected to mention the oil part when he was buying up all the mineral rights there.
 

Exavior

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Article linked says he received 8000 Euro, which is closer to $9121. Not sure where the $2200 come from.
 

c3k

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I give a lot of kudos to CD Projekt Red for making an agreement happen. I don't know anything about the negotiations, but it would seem to this layman that CDPR could've just said, "You got your $2,200, now go pound sand." Instead, and in congruence with their treatment of Witcher lore, they have shown they respect the artist.

Nicely done. I hope both sides are satisfied.
 

WBurchnall

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Pretty sure this happened to Harrison Ford too with the original Star Wars. He was offered like 1% royalty and less pay or more pay for the role and 0%. He picked the 0% option and loss millions upon millions across decades. Funny thing is, Harrison Ford didn't sue and say but but but I was dumb!

Honestly though, I wonder how many more copies The Witcher has sold translated into other languages because people wanted to learn more about the lore/universe? I bet at least 1 in 10,000 gamers is interested in various games' extended universes and buys these kinds of books. So he might have sold 40k more.
 

dvsman

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Personally, I bought my copy of the Witcher audio books because of the game. If it weren't for the games, I would not have ever heard of, much less bought a Witcher book. I would imagine many other American readers / geeks did the same.
 

DNMock

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Pretty sure this happened to Harrison Ford too with the original Star Wars. He was offered like 1% royalty and less pay or more pay for the role and 0%. He picked the 0% option and loss millions upon millions across decades. Funny thing is, Harrison Ford didn't sue and say but but but I was dumb!

Honestly though, I wonder how many more copies The Witcher has sold translated into other languages because people wanted to learn more about the lore/universe? I bet at least 1 in 10,000 gamers is interested in various games' extended universes and buys these kinds of books. So he might have sold 40k more.

Would love to see a graph of book sales by year.
 

motomonkey

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I would imaging even a game that tank would make you 2200 USD on a small percentage cut ?

Not if it's based off of profit. someone already mentioned above how that could net you $0 even if the company that bought the rights made millions.
 

zkostik

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$2200?? Should have just asked for a percentage at least.

Well, back then it likely wasn't worth much more. CDPR was like a 10 man gang or something and nobody has ever heard of Witcher. While it does sound like it was a bit of a butthurt move for the lawsuit, I am glad they got it settled and Sapkowsky got paid. I think CDPR also play it cool throughout the lawsuit process and the guy really does deserve a cut as it really is a great story. Realistically the game success is what really made his work worthwhile and it could be that CDPR creativity was just as much if not more of a reason franchise is where it is.
 
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