Reverse-Engineered GTA 3 Code Restored to GitHub Following DMCA Counter Notice

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Earlier this year, reverse-engineered GTA 3 code and GTA: Vice City code launched on GitHub. That code received a DMCA notice from Take-Two — and now one developer is fighting back.

The “Re3” and “reVC” projects are reverse-engineered versions of the Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City code, respectively. The project was created, in part, to open up the possibility for more modification and make it easier to play the games on modern computers.

Unfortunately, Grand Theft Auto franchise publisher Take-Two Interactive took issue with the project and sent a DMCA notice to GitHub, taking both projects entirely offline. Now, they’re both back following the filing of a counter-claim by someone who has forked the project.

Take-Two May Have ‘No Claim’ to Reverse-Engineered GTA 3 Code, Developer Says

The reverse-engineered GTA 3 code was not exactly one project; rather, it was several hundred projects, many of which were forks of the original.

This might require some explanation for the uninitiated. GitHub is a website that can be used to distribute and maintain code for pretty much anything. Developers often use it as a way to keep track of projects both public and private. One option on the site is the ability to “fork” a project, copying the code to a new project and making it easier to make changes. Forks can eventually develop into significantly different projects in their own right, given enough time.

It is the owner of one of these forks that eventually got the code restored. A New Zealand-based developer named Theo took a look at the situation and figured that Take-Two might be in the wrong here, filing a DMCA counter-notice that ultimately led to the code being restored.

“It would appear that the code in the re3 repo is reverse engineered, not a straight decompilation,” Theo told TorrentFreak (via ResetEra). “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 DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is well-familiar to gamers, especially those who enjoy fan-made projects. This U.S. law allows for copyright holders to file a DMCA claim if a website is hosting infringing material and the law requires that the website owner removes it as soon as possible. However, the person or persons who uploaded the material can file a counter-notice if they believe the DMCA claim to be in error. However, as Odin Law explains, the filing of a counter-notice could potentially lead to legal action.

At the time of writing, Theo’s forked version of the project is once again online on GitHub. None of the other projects have been restored at the time of writing; it’s unclear if any of them have (or will) similarly file a counter-notice as Theo has done. Theo says he hasn’t heard anything from Take-Two just yet; for now, it looks like the reverse-engineered GTA 3 code project can move forward once again.

What do you think of Take-Two Interactive filing a DMCA claim against the reverse-engineered GTA 3 code and GTA: Vice City code projects on GitHub? What other classic games would you like to see reverse-engineered? Let us know in the comments below!

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