re3, (reverse engineered open source code of GTAIII / Vice City) taken down with DMCA notice
For all of us PS vita enthusiasts, the past few months have seen a countless stream of releases related to GTA, thanks in particular to developers The Flow, Rinnegatamante, and aap. The three developers have recently released Vita ports of several popular GTA games, such as Vice City a few days ago. Those ports were based on the recently released “re3” source code, a fully reverse engineered version of the official binaries.
Unfortunately, the legal aspects of re3 where cloudy to say the least. The people originally behind this work stated themselves on the github repository: “We don’t feel like we’re in a position to give this code a license.”.
Take Two Interactive seemed to see it this way as well, and sent a DMCA to github in order to take down the repository, as well as all its forks. As of a few hours ago, the github repositories related to the project all lead to an error message, pointing to the dmca request. As for the request itself, it is unequivocal:
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.
I personally doubt anybody will question that move, even if it totally sucks. With that being said, it is possible a cleaner version of the reverse engineered work could surface, as the repository allegedly contained binary fonts and “story” files. Arguably, reverse engineered code alone, without any art/design would be legally harder to take down. But maybe the folks behind re3 don’t have the legal resources to fight that battle anyway.
As for the impact for the Vita community: the ports are already out and available, and I’m convinced it will always be possible to find them somewhere, even if a decision is made to take them down from e.g. vitadb (at the time of this writing, the games are still available on vitadb. Get them while you can?). But whether they ever get updated, modded, or improved moving forward is a big question mark.
Once again, Take Two Interactive are completely in their right to ask for that take down legally, but from an ethical perspective, it sucks that a console that was never given any love by the publisher could now be impacted by such a decision.