Take Two have filed a lawsuit against the creators of Re3 (GTA reverse engineering open source project)
GTA fans are reporting that Take Two, the company that owns Rockstar and the GTA franchise, have just filed a lawsuit against the developers behind Re3. Re3/ReVC is the GTA Reverse engineering project that, among other things, recently made it possible to play GTA III on the PS Vita and Nintendo Switch.
The Lawsuit, which can be found here, alleges that the people behind the GTA III reverse engineering project Re3 (and some of its forks) has caused and continues to cause “irreparable harm” to Take Two.
Who is being sued?
Take Two are suing multiple developers behind ReVC, Re3, and some of its forks. Namely:
- Angelo Papenhoff, a.k.a. aap (creator/lead dev on Re3/reVC)
- Theo Morra (fork creator/owner)
- Eray Orçunus (lead dev on Re3/ReVC)
- Adrian Graber (Nintendo Switch port)
- Ash R./Ash_735 (active dev)
Are Take Two’s claims legit?
Take Two are saying that reverse engineering of their games consists in copyright infringement, which is legally a stretch in most countries of the world. With the right lawyer, this could go either way.
Reverse engineering in itself is considered fair use in the US, but people who agree to the GTA III User License agreement waive these rights, at least in the US (whether this kind of EULA clause is legal for developers who contributed outside of the US remains to be seen). Take Two would have to be able to prove that the Reverse Engineers actually saw and accepted the EULA, which is probably hard to prove.
As far as distributing such reverse engineering work, this is probably where it gets trickier. This is generally illegal, but there are exceptions around compatibility between different programs. One could allege that making the game compatible with the OS of the PS Vita, the Nintendo Switch, or fixing game breaking bugs on Windows platforms, counts as a possibly legal use case. Making a game interoperable with other platforms, provided that the game is acquired legally (which is the case that Re3 and ReVC fall under: one needs to have the original game in order to play Re3 and ReVC) has been considered as legal, in the past, in the US.
In other words, Take Two possibly have a very fragile case here, and if the defendants could find a lawyer that will match the sh*t ton of Money that Take Two is probably pouring into their legal representative, they have a solid chance.
Fans reaction to Take Two suing a fanmade project
Fans of Rockstar and of the homebrew scene alike are not pleased with Take Two’s decision to start a lawsuit. Suing independent developers over a twenty year old game that has already been milked to death, is perceived like nothing but corporate greed.
Having read the case I’m disappointed with Take-Two and Rockstar. These are just fans that love your game and now may potentially hurt them financially. The older games do not work well with W10/W11 due to compatibility issues on Windows 10/11, just why… This isn’t a big deal.
— Ben (@videotech_) September 3, 2021
Furthermore, the content of the lawsuit tries really hard to make it look like the people behind these reverse engineering projects acted in bad faith and together. That’s how these things are written, but the way their lawyers wrote it, you’d think these ten guys were after Take Two and wanted the company to be destroyed :/
In what feels like a David vs Goliath battle, we can only hope things will end ok for the folks behind these ports. Most likely though, this will end outside of courts, with the projects deleted from github, the reverse engineers signing some NDA and accepting to not touch any Rockstar software ever, and this will most likely be the end of the projects…
In the meantime, you can enjoy Re3 and reVC for your Vita and your switch here:
Update: per request from the developers behind these forks, we have taken down the Vita and Switch download links for now. Looks like Take Two’s intimidation campaign is working as planned.