GTA 3 and GTA Vice City modders fight Take-Two copyright lawsuit

A group of GTA modders has hit back against a lawsuit from the game’s publisher, claiming changes they made were permissible under the copyright act.

Earlier this year, the modders confirmed that they had fully reverse-engineered GTA 3 and GTA Vice City, eventually releasing versions of each game known as ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’, respectively. In response, Take-Two Interactive, parent company of original developer Rockstar Games, filed a DMCA takedown against the project, which was then overturned. In September, Take-Two sued the modding group, filing a lawsuit stating that it had infringed on the company’s copyright.

Now, the modders have responded, issuing a legal answer to Take-Two’s suit (via Torrentfreak (opens in new tab)). Their main response is that the work they did constitutes ‘Fair Use’, which can allow the use of copyrighted material in material such as criticism, teaching, or research. In particular, they claim that their work on the game is ‘transformative’ – that it doesn’t simply copy the original, but builds upon it.

As well as noting the improvements they had made to the games, the modders pointed out that Rockstar and Take-Two “ceased releasing updates to the complained of software […] years before any complained of actions” and that their work didn’t impact the market for the original games. That may have been accurate when the source code was engineered in February, and even when the lawsuit was filed in September, but may lose some relevance as a defense in the wake of the re-release of the two games as part of the GTA Trilogy, announced in October and released last week.

The group also points out, however, that Rockstar and Take-Two have “allowed others to undertake the development of ‘mods’ of its software,” and “encouraged and supported others undertaking the development of ‘mods’,” even going so far as to showcase them, “without any adverse action” in the past.

It’s an interesting quirk of timing, as not all that long ago, it’s unlikely that Take-Two would have been too concerned about the modding scene of its older games. With the GTA Trilogy now available, however, there was a chance that the existence of these mod projects would have limited sales, which is likely why it’s taking action now, having allowed other mods to exist without legal pressure in the past. Given that other modders are already going to work on the remastered games, however, it’ll be interesting to see what further action Take-Two takes.

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