GTA modding tool OpenIV downed by cease and desist notification

June 15, 2017 // 10:28 a.m.

Tags: #grand-theft-auto #gta #gta-iv #gta-v #legal #modding #openiv #rockstar #rockstar-games #take-two #take-two-interactive

Grand Theft Auto modding site OpenIV, which produces one of the most popular modding tools around, has announced it is shutting down following a cease and desist notification from publisher Take-Two Interactive, throwing the future of modding in Take-Two games into question.

The OpenIV development team has been producing tools to make modding of Grand Theft Auto games easier for a decade, originally for GTA IV and now for GTA V. The group claims to adhere to a code of conduct which includes: 'Strictly following of Civil Code of Russia (only reverse engineering for interoperability); only clean-room reverse engineering; no distribution of original data and code; and absolutely no messing with Online…' Its eponymous tool allows users to quickly load various mods into the game, but only for offline use and never during multiplayer - but that, the group claims, isn't good enough for Take-Two Interactive.

'On June 5th, 2017, we had received an official Cease-and-Desist letter,' the group explains in its announcement. 'It clearly says that with OpenIV we "allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two’s rights." Yes, this letter is illiterate both technically and grammatically (really, they don’t even bothered with proof-reading the text). Yes, we can go to court and yet again prove that modding is fair use and our actions are legal.Yes, we could. But we decided not to.

'Going to court will take at least few months of our time and huge amount of efforts, and, at best, we’ll get absolutely nothing. Spending time just to restore status quo is really unproductive, and all the money in the world can’t compensate the loss of time. So, we decided to agree with their claims and we’re stopping distribution of OpenIV. It was a hard decision, but when any modding activity has been declared illegal, we can’t see any possibilities to continue this process, unless top management of Take-Two company makes an official statement about modding, which can be used in court.[/i]'

While no other modding tool developer appears to have received a similar legal notification, fans of the franchise are up in arms regarding what it seen as a heavy-handed approach from publisher Take-Two - especially following previous comments from developer Rockstar praising the modding community as a whole. Concerns have also been raised about the future of modding Take-Two-published titles in general, given that if OpenIV's claims are true and the letter is genuine then any such work can be rendered a legal hazard at any time.

Take-Two had not responded to a request for comment on the matter at the time of publication.

UPDATE 20170620:
While Take-Two has still not responded to repeated requests for comment, subsidiary Rockstar Games has issued a statement to press reading: 'Take-Two's actions were not specifically targeting single player mods. Unfortunately OpenIV enables recent malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfere with the GTA Online experience for everybody. We are working to figure out how we can continue to support the creative community without negatively impacting our players.'

The company's critics, however, have suggested the issue is less about mods which 'allow harassment of players' and more about allowing the generation of in-game money, which prevents players from having to pay real-world money to purchase 'Shark Cards' to unlock in-game content such as the recently-released flying bike with homing missile launcher.
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