Take-Two pursues GTA modders trying to dodge the DMCA

In recent months, Take-Two Interactive has been tracking down Grand Theft Auto modders who have produced proprietary graphical updates to older games in the series. With the imminent release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, it’s clear the company was attacking the competition – when a group fought back, they were sued.

As noted in our previous coverage of this phenomenon, Take-Two specifically targeted mods that amounted to remasters of fan-made GTA games without modifying or adding original content – in fact, they were deliberately looking for anything gamers might consider. as free alternatives to an officially released remaster.

Most of the mods and modding teams that have received DMCAs have gone quietly, adhering to takedowns and removing all of their content. No individual or small hobby group was ready to mingle with a large, scary business with a history of being ruthless in legal matters. None, but one.

The modders behind Re3 and reVC, two projects to reverse engineer the code and assets of GTA 3 and Vice City with the aim of improving the original titles both visually and mechanically, have defied the published DMCA advisory. GitHub, the project host, initially deleted the files after Take-Two made the claim, which modders then counterclaimed through official channels.

As Take-Two did not contest the counterclaim, GitHub restored everything. It’s possible, in retrospect, that Take-Two deliberately ignored the counterclaim as a chance to step things up after the Restoration and set a chilling example for anyone to try the tactic.

It is true that Take-Two’s legal team left and launched an infringement action in California, which was followed almost immediately by GitHub again removing all Re3 and reVC content, again posting standard DMCA notices on all the pages previously linked to the project and its forks.

The legal team is also going straight to the jugular – Take-Two is seeking damages and is specifically aimed at setting a major precedent regarding the use of counterclaims, which he characterized as “bad faith” to essentially poison functionality. against future use.

The defendants are well aware that they do not have the right to copy, adapt or distribute the source code derived from GTA, or the audiovisual elements of the Games, and that this constitutes an infringement of copyright. Respondent [aap] even publicly stated that he was “very concerned” about TakeTwo’s discovery of the re3 and reVC projects. And, when Take-Two attempted to remove the Defendants’ infringing source code from the Internet, at least three Defendants (acting in at least one instance with the participation and direction of other Defendants) knowingly filed counter-notices of bad faith that materially misrepresented the legality of their content, apparently claiming that because they “reversed” the source code of the Games, they somehow cannot be held responsible for copyright infringement.

The team behind Re3 and reVC argued their project was fair dealing, but it’s not clear if that will hold up in court.

If the latest reports are true, then the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition will launch in November. This will bring remastered versions of GTA 3, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas in Unreal Engine on current PC and consoles. It remains to be seen how the trial will unfold.

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