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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. GTA V’s Take-Two Settles Lawsuit with Popular Cheat Maker With a consent judgment issued by a New York federal court, Take-Two Interactive has settled its case with a prominent GTA V cheat maker. The Georgia man, one of the key people behind the ‘Menyoo’ and ‘Absolute’ cheats, allegedly earned more than $100,000 from the copyright-infringing activities. Take-Two Interactive Software, the company behind ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ (GTA V), is working hard to eliminate cheaters. The company has filed several lawsuits in the US and abroad, accusing alleged cheat makers and sellers of copyright infringement. One case, filed at a New York court a little over a year ago, targeted Georgia resident David Zipperer, who was accused of working on and distributing the ‘Menyoo’ and ‘Absolute’ cheats. Zipperer didn’t deny his involvement and said that he had already stopped working on the cheats. With help from a pro-bono attorney, he discussed a possible settlement. However, the game company wanted “tens of thousands” of dollars, which the defendant said he couldn’t afford. “My client has no money. He swore to this Court that the money he earned from selling ‘cheat menus’ was used to support his family, that the money is gone, and that he has none left,” Zipperer’s attorney informed the court last summer. Take-Two didn’t believe the cheat maker and swiftly submitted a scathing reply, painting a different picture. According to the game company, Zipperer repeatedly misled the Court regarding his financial situation. Through a subpoena, they found out that the cheat maker earned at least $100,000, possibly much more. Some of these profits were spent on expensive electronic equipment and other personal purchases. “Mr. Zipperer clearly has significantly more resources than he has repeatedly represented to this Court. We believe that these PayPal records reflect only a small fraction of the proceeds Mr. Zipperer has received from his illegal businesses,” the company wrote. After the New York court issued a preliminary injunction Take-Two wanted to see a healthy settlement. It’s unclear whether it got what it wanted, but this week both parties agreed to a settlement, which is part of a consent judgment signed by the New York federal court. The settlement remains “confidential” and involves an “undisclosed amount of money”, according to the legal paperwork. From the consent judgment It is clear, however, that Zipperer agreed that his work on the Menyoo and Absolute cheats constituted copyright infringement. He admittedly profited from these infringements, which caused Take-Two significant losses. “Mr. Zipperer’s violations of the Copyright Act and New York law have caused, and continue to cause, Take-Two great and irreparable injury that cannot be fully compensated or measured in money,” the consent judgment reads. The court order also includes a permanent injunction which prevents the cheat maker from engaging in any activities that infringe on the copyrights of Take-Two games, including GTA V. Creating or selling cheats for these games is also strictly prohibited. This settlement is the latest in a series of similar outcomes. Several of Take-Two’s other lawsuits also resulted in confidential settlements. Source
  3. Take-Two boss says single-player games aren't dead Despite the huge success of multiplayer titles A hot potato: The rise of multiplayer and live service games over the last decade has been phenomenal. Few companies can testify to this quite like Take-Two Interactive, parent of Rockstar Games and 2K Games, though its CEO says that when it comes to single-player experiences, claims of their death have been greatly exaggerated. Speaking during a recent earnings call (via Gamespot), Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick said: "The folks at Rockstar Games intended to create a powerful single-player experience a story-driven experience. And Rockstar has always been known for great stories and great single-player experiences and then developed in addition, a massive multiplayer opportunity over the past years." Grand Theft Auto V has moved 140 million copies, making it the second best-selling game of all time behind Minecraft. With "expanded and enhanced" versions coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, the game's commercial success will extend into a third console generation—it arrived on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September 2013, just before the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which didn't see versions of the game until November 2014. Both GTA V and Rockstar's other flagship, Red Dead Redemption 2, saw record player numbers last year, despite neither of them ever receiving any single-player DLC. And it's all thanks to their multiplayer elements. "I think it's a reminder, not that we needed one, that Rockstar Games can do both of those things [multiplayer and single-player] at the highest possible level of execution in our business," Zelnick said. Notice a recurring theme? Steam's bestsellers list is populated with multiplayer or multiplayer-focused titles, including Valheim at number one, Rust in second, RDR2, Raft, and Sea of Thieves. It's led to renewed calls that single-player gaming is dead, replaced by multiplayer titles and live services that are a constant source of income for the companies behind them; it's an argument that's been around as long as "PC gaming is dead." You might imagine Zelnick would agree, but he's in the other camp. "There was an argument just a couple of years ago […] in some of our competitors' offices, that single-player is dead, that it's all about multiplayer," he said. "We didn't believe that. I said specifically and publicly that we didn't believe that—our labels don't believe that." Sadly, with Rockstar focusing on their multiplayer elements and the PS5/XBSX versions, we're unlikely to ever see any single-player DLC for GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2. Let's hope GTA VI doesn't take too long to arrive. Do you think the industry is heading more towards multiplayer and live service games, leaving single-player-only titles in scarce supply, or will there always be a market for solo experiences? Source: Take-Two boss says single-player games aren't dead
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