The Grand Theft Auto fan community is full of creative people, many of whom pour their energy into creating tributes to their favorite games in one format or another. However, it appears that Take-Two Interactive is drawing a line at fans reverse-engineering its games, and the company is now suing the creators of reverse-engineered Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City fan projects.
The suit was filed in California and is aimed at a group of 14 programmers from around the world, all of whom have been working together to make derivative source code for both games. While the project includes bug fixes and improvements to the Grand Theft Auto titles in question, it does not contain any of the assets that Rockstar Games created, which many programmers consider to skate within the bounds of legality. In other words, players would still have to buy the original games in order to make the reverse-engineered versions run.
YouTuber RacingFreak previously drew attention to the reverse-engineering project with a 13-minute-long video showcasing the build, which features a rotatable camera, XInput controller support on PC, widescreen support, and no loading screens between islands on top of the fully reverse-engineered source code for GTA 3 and GTA Vice City. The team had to recreate the games from scratch using modern coding languages as well as create the foundation for Grand Theft Auto ports to modern consoles like Switch, Wii U, and Vita. While it could be argued that reverse-engineering projects are technically legal, Take-Two appears to be suing the programmers in the belief that their work qualifies as knowing, intentional copyright infringement.
Apparently, Take-Two had attempted to remove the project from GitHub, only for three of the programmers to file counter-notifications arguing that reverse-engineering projects are legal. However, Take-Two's suit directly addresses this by claiming that doing so was a misrepresentation of the project's legality–in other words, the company is firmly stating that reverse-engineering its work is copyright infringement regardless of whether Rockstar-created assets are present. Take-Two also claimed that the project caused irreparable harm by appropriating the modified or handheld Grant Theft Auto market.
Some commenters under the YouTuber video have theorized that Take-Two started the lawsuit not because the programmers' actions caused damage, but because it intends to release a remastered Grant Theft Auto Trilogy in the near future. Similar reverse-engineering projects have been created around other games, including Super Mario 64, which was recently ported to PC and other platforms as a result. As of writing, Nintendo has yet to pursue legal action against the programmers who worked on that project. While the reverse-engineered Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City fan projects are technically still on GitHub, they have been archived and are now read-only.
Grand Theft Auto Remastered Trilogy is rumored to be in development for various platforms.
Source: Video Games Chronicle