Fan overhauls of Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City are back online thanks to action by their creators, though for how long remains to be seen.
By Roger Fingas
Published 6 days ago
Reverse-engineered fan versions of Grand Theft Auto III?and Vice City, known as re3 and reVC, are fully back online following a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) counterclaim by the projects’ creators. The retrofitted Grand Theft Auto games were taken down in February,?a result of a DMCA complaint by?Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive, which alleged?copyright infringement.
Together, re3 and reVC took years to develop, and they enable graphical improvements like ray tracing and longer draw distances, crucial improvements given the age of GTA 3 and?Vice City. They have also enabled ports to platforms Rockstar doesn’t support, namely the Nintendo Switch, Wii U, and even PlayStation Vita. A fork of the reverse-engineered?GTA project was restored to GitHub in May following one DMCA counterclaim, followed later by another from a developer on?a Switch port.
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The creators of the core project filed their counterclaim on June 10 and have since had their GitHub uploads restored, according to Eurogamer. DMCA rules stipulate that content must?go back online in 10 to 14 days unless legal action is taken, but Take-Two?doesn’t appear to have filed a lawsuit or even sent cease-and-desist letters. In their GitHub counterclaim, “aap” and other re3/reVC engineers argued that the code is “either unprotected by copyright or is permitted under fair use.” Project lead?aap further suggested that Take-Two is making money?from the project, as users?need to own GTA 3 or Vice City?to even access the improved games.
Indeed it’s possible that Take-Two took DMCA action only as a hair-trigger response, part of a broad sweep, and/or a way of setting legal precedent. A common view?among media holders is that if copyright isn’t enforced in one?case, then it can?be later exploited by violators, rendering copyright claims in similar cases potentially toothless. One of the proponents of this view is Nintendo, which?uses the DMCA to aggressively pursue fan projects?for properties ranging from Super Mario to?Pokémon?and Metroid.
Not all companies share this stance, since being too strict can create a backlash among the fans they need to survive. It’s possible that Take-Two came to this conclusion. On top of potential new sales of older Grand Theft Auto games, it and publisher-developer Rockstar Games are dependent on the?money they make from?GTA 5 and GTA Online.?There’s also the?prospect of GTA 6 on the horizon, even though that sequel could still be years away. It was absent from E3 2021 and might not be announced until 2022 or later, theoretically giving Take-Two plenty of time to fix any perceived stains on its reputation.
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About The Author
(307 Articles Published)
Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Roger now lives with his family in Austin, Texas. He has years of experience in tech writing, and his gaming specialties include FPS and VR games on the PC.
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