Legal dispute with modders about Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City

For many games, mods are often a blessing. For many, they not only add value to the fun of the game, but also keep many titles up to date. This can be seen very clearly in titles like Bethesda’s Skyrim, which mainly focused on mods for the recently released Anniversary Edition. Studios like Rockstar Games and its parent company Take Two see it differently.

Take Two Interactive sued a group of modders this year who gave GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City their own paint job. The reason for this was the mods re3 and reVC published on Github at the beginning of this year, which, according to Take Two’s lawsuit, changed the source code of the games through so-called “reverse engineering”. However, this is strictly prohibited according to the company’s EULA guidelines. The changed code should fix existing problems with the classic games and provide other modders with a foundation to develop new things like Switch and PlayStation Vita ports.

In addition, the developer studio Rockstar Games has long since removed the original versions of GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City from all stores because of the revised versions of the open world games in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. Therefore, Take Two was also forced to sue the modders for illegal copying of the games.
The group of responsible modders, consisting of four people, then filed a counterclaim with the help of a lawyer. There they defended themselves against the allegations and cited that the mods represent a redesigned use of the content. According to American copyright law, this would then run under so-called “fair use”.

In addition, they stated in their letter that neither Take Two nor Rockstar Games had released patches or bug fixes for the original decades-old games for years. In addition, there have been countless mods for GTA 3 and Vice City in the past without any legal action against modders. “These supported, encouraged or allowed ‘Mod’ projects demonstrably required the” reverse engineering “of software, as the defendants allegedly did. According to the information available, the defendants had an implied license to carry out the actions complained of, as the plaintiff would otherwise would have given up his copyright. ”

This lawsuit comes at a time when Take Two and Rockstar Games could actually benefit from the modding community. The launch of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition has so far not been a lucky star. From a technical point of view, the new editions of the three classics GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas did not go down well with the fans. A modding community was quickly formed around the new games, trying to fix the technical shortcomings and inadequacies of the Definitive Edition – which the Grove Street Games team originally responsible for implementation was not able to do.