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  1. Take-Two Interactive has sued several programmers and enthusiasts said to be behind the popular re3 and reVC Grand Theft Auto fan projects. The lawsuit says that after the company filed a DMCA takedown notice to remove the projects from Github, the defendants filed a bad faith counter notice to have the content reinstated, thus triggering this copyright infringement lawsuit. Earlier this year a group of programmers and Grand Theft Auto enthusiasts released ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’, a pair of reverse engineered releases of GTA 3 and Vice City. The code meant that these old but well-loved games could be enjoyed with significant improvements but the fun wasn’t to last for long. In response to the projects, Take-Two and Rockstar Games filed a DMCA notice at Github where the code was stored, requesting the removal of the ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’ repositories. Initially, project leader “aap” questioned the authenticity of the takedown. “It’s not impossible it’s just a troll. Hard to tell. But better to assume it’s real,” he told Eurogamer. As per legal requirements, Github complied with the takedown demand but, as TF noted at the time, the team behind the projects had the option of filing a DMCA counter-notice if it was confident that its work is permitted under copyright law. After assessing its options, that’s exactly what the team did, leaving Take-Two just a couple of weeks to file a lawsuit to prevent the content reappearing on Github. When that time expired, the coding platform restored ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’, as per the law. “We claim that our project falls under fair use: our goal is clearly not piracy or anything as you still need the original game. Rather we want to care for the game by fixing and improving it and bringing it to new platforms,” project leader ‘aap’ informed TF at the time. “This has caused many people to buy or re-buy the game from Take-Two, so it’s not like they’re losing money, quite the opposite.” While Take-Two didn’t act quickly enough to prevent the restoration of ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’ to Github, the company has now followed up with a full-blown lawsuit targeting their developers. Copyright Infringement Complaint Filed in a California court a few hours ago, Take-Two’s lawsuit lists Angelo Papenhoff (aap), Theo Morra, Eray Orçunus, and Adrian Graber as named defendants, plus Doe 1 ‘Ash R / Ash/735’ and nine other unnamed Does. “Defendants’ source code projects, known as re3 and reVC, purport to have created a set of software files (which Defendants claim they ‘reverse engineered’ from the original Game software) that allow members of the public to play the Games on various hardware devices, but with so-called ‘enhancements’ and ‘modifications’ added by Defendants,” the complaint reads. “Perhaps most notably, Defendants claim that their derivative GTA source code enables players to install and run the Games on multiple game platforms, including those on which the Games never have been released, such as the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch.” According to Take-Two, the defendants’ conduct is willful and deliberate since they are well aware that they do not have the necessary rights to copy, adapt or distribute derivative GTA source code or the audiovisual elements of the games. The gaming giant adds that Papenhoff publicly expressed concern that Take-Two would find out about the ‘re3’ and ‘reVC’ projects. Defendants Created Repositories on Github According to the complaint, the defendants uploaded their projects to Github and, over time, refined and updated these repositories until a “full set” of derivative files for the games GTA 3 and Vice City had been created. “These source code files not only contain the derivative software code that enables the Games to run on a player’s computer, but also contain Take-Two’s original digital content such as text, character dialog, and certain game assets. Additionally, the re3 GitHub Repositories include links to locations where members of the public can download a complete, installable build of the re3 and reVC software,” Take-Two adds. The company says the derivative versions of the games are “virtually identical” to the originals in function, appearance and gameplay (except for the modifications added by the defendants) and allow players to experience the “exact same sights, sounds, story, setting, dialog, and other creative content” present in the originals. Defendants Intended to Create and Distribute Pirated Games Take-Two’s lawsuit claims that the defendants have made public statements that show their intent to create and distribute pirated Grand Theft Auto games by using Twitter and Discord to solicit help with the projects. The gaming company also insists that the defendants have admitted that the source code is not original but intended to be copies of the originals. “[D]efendants slavishly recreated the original code to play the Games by ‘decompiling’ the Games’ object (or ‘machine’) code and then working with that material to create a game experience that is identical to the original Games,” its lawsuit adds. Addressing DMCA Notices Sent to Github As previously noted, Take-Two submitted a DMCA takedown notice to Github in February requesting the disabling and/or removal of the allegedly infringing repositories. The company says that the counter notices sent by the defendants in response were not legitimate. “In at least three separate instances between April and June of 2021, Defendants Orçunus, Morra, and Graber submitted sworn counter notifications to GitHub claiming the takedown of the repositories was mistaken or otherwise not legitimate,” the lawsuit reads. “Take-Two is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that these counter notifications were made in bad faith, and knowingly and deliberately misrepresented to GitHub the contents of the re3 GitHub Repositories.” Furthermore, it’s alleged that the reverse-engineering team expected a Take-Two response, noting on Discord it was a matter of “WHEN and not IF” the company would “strike back”. Copyright Infringement Claims Take-Two says that by willfully and maliciously copying, adapting and distributing its source code and other content, all of the defendants have infringed its exclusive rights under copyright law. As a result, the company is entitled to damages in amounts to be determined at trial or, alternatively, a maximum statutory damages award of $150,000 for each infringed work. Additionally, the gaming company says that by submitting bad faith DMCA counternotices to have the projects restored to Github, three of the defendants made misrepresentations under U.S.C. § 512(f). “Accordingly, Defendant Orçunus, Morra, and Graber are liable for damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by Take-Two,” the complaint adds. Finally, Take-Two is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief to restrain the defendants from continuing their allegedly infringing activities. The company wants all infringing source code and games removed from the Internet and wants the defendants to hand over all materials that infringe its rights. Take-Two also wants a full accounting of “any and all sales or downloads of products or services” that infringe its rights. Take-Two’s copyright infringement complaint can be found here (pdf) Take-Two Sues Enthusiasts Behind GTA Fan Projects re3 & reVC
  2. Github Restores Reverse-Engineered GTA Code Following DMCA Counter Notice GitHub has restored a fork of the fan-made “Re3” project that published reverse-engineered code of the popular GTA 3 and Vice City games. The action follows a counter-notice sent by a third-party developer in response to Take-Two Interactive's takedown. Github followed the DMCA procedure and isn't publicly taking sides. In February, a group of developers released a project that had many passionate GTA fans excited. After years of work, they published “Re3” and “reVC,” two fully reverse-engineered releases of the GTA III and Vice City games, which were originally released two decades ago. The reverse-engineered code opens the door to many tweaks and modifications that make the old games much more playable on modern computers. Importantly, however, an official copy of the games was still required for the code to work properly since game assets are not included. Take-Two Takes Down Reverse-Engineered GTA Code GTA fans welcomed the releases with open arms but the same can’t be said for Take-Two Interactive. A few days after “Re3” and “reVC” were posted on GitHub, the game publisher took them offline, claiming copyright infringement. “The content in the links below consists of copyrighted materials owned by Take-Two. The use of our copyrighted content in these links are unauthorized and it should be removed immediately,” Take-Two Interactive wrote. When the news first broke, project leader “aap” said that the team was considering possible options to restore the code. That is not without risk. Under US law, reverse-engineering can be seen as fair use, but this area is a bit of a minefield that could open the door to an expensive legal battle. The DMCA takedown notice didn’t just target the official GitHub repository. There were more than 200 forks that were pulled offline too. One of these forks was created by a New Zealand-based developer named Theo, who, unlike the main developers, decided to take a stand. Fork Owner Sends Counter-Notice Last month, Theo submitted a counter-notice, arguing that his fork was taken down without a proper reason. “This should not have happened,” he informed GitHub. Speaking with TorrentFreak, the developer says that the reverse-engineered code is not completely identical to Take-Two’s original. Since it’s not copied verbatim, he believes that the game publisher can’t claim it as theirs. “It would appear that the code in the re3 repo is reverse engineered, not a straight decompilation. I believe Take-Two’s claim to be wholly incorrect if this is the case, since the code may be functionally identical, but not exactly identical, they hold no claim to the code. “I do not agree with how Take-Two handles events like this,” Theo adds, referencing an earlier debacle when Take-Two targeted the OpenIV modding tool. “Taking down code that does not belong to them is abhorrent.” Github Restores Forked Repository While this may seem like a David vs. Goliath battle, the developer’s counter-notice was successful. After two weeks, GitHub restored the fork, which is now accessible to the public again. This doesn’t mean that GitHub has taken sides. The DMCA rules simply dictate that disputed content has to be restored between 10 and 14 business days, unless the rightsholder takes legal action. Theo tells us that he hasn’t heard from Take-Two in response to his takedown notice. While he’s aware of the legal risk that he faces, the developer doesn’t expect the game publisher to pursue this any further. This would mean that the reverse-engineered code remains online. Github Restores Reverse-Engineered GTA Code Following DMCA Counter Notice
  3. GTA Online New Hack Cuts Down Load Times by 70% GTA Online has had some very long load times since its release, but it seems like it's possible to cut them down by a huge margin with the right tweaks. Modder t0st recently took a good look at why the game loads so slowly, discovering that there's a CPU bottleneck that's causing the game to load slowly on most systems, alongside a poorly-implemented JSON parser. As the database includes over 63,000 items, the parser takes a long time to go through every single one of them every time the game loads. Digital Foundry provided a clear explanation of the JSON parser issue: First, the game was reading in a text file of all purchasable items in the game - and after every one of 63,000 items, it counts every character in the 10MB text file afresh. Doing this count once is no big deal, but doing it 63,000 times adds up to a whole lot of wasted CPU time. Second, to prepare all of the item data that's been read in, the game records both the data associated with that item (eg its name, price, category, stats) and a hash of that item (essentially a calculated 'fingerprint' that uniquely identifies it). Each time the game stores an item from the list - which, remember, happens 63,000 times - it checks the hash value of the item being stored against the hash value of every other item that's already been stored. To solve the issue, t0st wrote a .dll file that improves GTA Online load times considerably by fixing the issues detailed above. After patching the game, it loads in 1 minute and 50 seconds instead of 6 minutes. t0st provided the source code for his GTA Online fix, which can be found here. Modifying the game while in online mode may lead to account suspension, so attempt to install the fix only if you are absolutely certain of what you are doing. Source: GTA Online New Hack Cuts Down Load Times by 70%
  4. Rockstar loses its rock star GTA game producer Dan Houser, the creative force behind the Grand Theft Auto video games, will leave the Rockstar Games firm, the company says The creative force behind the Grand Theft Auto video games, Dan Houser, will leave next month the Rockstar Games firm he cofounded, its parent company said. Houser produced and helped write the GTA games, one of the most lucrative video game titles ever, and made a succuss of the Rockstar Games studio he built with his brother. GTA 6 is expected to be published by the end of the year when the next generation game consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are released. "After an extended break beginning in the spring of 2019, Dan Houser, Vice President, Creative at Rockstar Games, will be leaving the company," Take Two said in a statement late Tuesday to US market regulators. It said Houser's last day of work would be on March 11 at the studio that is also known for the game Red Dead Redemption. After the release of Rockstar Games' last title Houser stirred controversy by speaking out about working conditions in the studio and the video game publishing industry at large by saying that certain developers had worked as many as 100 hours per week to meet the release date. Take Two's shares were down 3.6 percent in midday trading while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.24 percent overall. Source
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