Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

This Bold GTA Fan Stuck It To Rockstar

Take-Two's crusade against the "Grand Theft Auto" modding community rages on. While the "GTA" publisher has never hesitated to yank fan-developed content from the internet, its latest DMCA takedown stopped some fans dead in their tracks, purging the software-hosting website GitHub of reverse-engineered releases of both "Grand Theft Auto 3" and "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." Emerging from the metaphorical rubble, however, a lone developer took a bold stand against Take-Two — a stand that just might set a precedent for future fan-made projects and the rights of the developers who create them.


Take-Two's February barrage of DMCA takedown notices didn't just lead to the removal of "Re3" and "reVC" — it also caused GitHub to "[process] the takedown notice against the entire fork network," according to TorrentFreak. What this essentially means is that all forks — basically software's source code that's been copied and then altered — were swept up in Take-Two's takedown wave as well. And while much of the content that GitHub removed from its site remains absent, a New Zealand-based developer named Theo decided to file a counter-notice, arguing that Take-Two did not, in fact, own the code in the fork that was removed.

Defending his position, Theo told TorrentFreak, "It would appear that the code in the re3 [repository] is reverse engineered, not a straight decompilation." He added, "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."


The truth about Take-Two's DMCA takedown notices

Believe it or not, GitHub restored the fork two weeks later, with nary a peep from Take-Two or Rockstar's lawyers.

While Theo's victory over "Grand Theft Auto" publisher Take-Two might come as a shock to gamers acquainted with the company's history of killing promising fan projects, there's a bit more to the story than meets the eye.


Specifically, it's unclear if the initial DMCA takedown notice issued to GitHub was, in fact, legitimate. Project lead of the reverse-engineered "GTA3" and "GTA: Vice City" releases, a developer going by the moniker "aap" told EuroGamer that the original notice might be the result of elaborate trolling. He admitted, "It's not impossible it's just a troll," adding, "Hard to tell. But better to assume it's real."

Although aap decided to err on the side of caution, the restoration of Theo's fork might just suggest that the initial takedown notice was not submitted by Take-Two. This is compounded by the fact that whoever filed the initial notice neglected to take action during the restoration process, which constitutes a 10-14 day period prior to restoration, according to Section 512 of Title 17 of the United States Copyright Code.


While "Grand Theft Auto" fans may never know exactly how aggressive Take-Two's takedown practices are, Theo's successful counter-notice — and the restoration of his fan-developed content — is a small but satisfying victory for modders everywhere, even if Take-Two decides to pull the plug on the fork in the future.