[…]Rockstar Games has previously had its own run-in with its modding community, banning modders who attempted to shift GTA5’s online gameplay to dedicated servers that would allow mods to be used, since Rockstar’s servers don’t allow mods. What it’s now doing in issuing copyright notices on modders who have been forklifting older Rockstar assets into newer GTA games, however, is totally different.
Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two has issued copyright takedown notices for several mods on LibertyCity.net, according to a post from the site. The mods either inserted content from older Rockstar games into newer ones, or combined content from similar Rockstar games into one larger game. The mods included material from Grand Theft Auto 3, San Andreas, Vice City, Mahunt, and Bully.
This has been a legally active year for Take-Two, starting with takedown notices for reverse-engineered versions of GTA3 and Vice City. Those projects were later restored. Since then, Take-Two has issued takedowns for mods that move content from older Grand Theft Auto games into GTA5, as well as mods that combine older games from the GTA3 generation into one. That lead to a group of modders preemptively taking down their 14-year-old mod for San Andreas in case they were next on Take-Two’s list.
All of this is partially notable because it’s new. Like many games released for the PC, the GTA series has enjoyed a healthy modding community. And Rockstar, previously, has largely left this modding community alone. Which is generally smart, as mods such as the ones the community produces are fantastic ways to both keep a game fresh as it ages and lure in new players to the original game by enticing them with mods that meet their particular interests. I’ll never forget a Doom mod that replaced all of the original MIDI soundtrack files with MIDI versions of 90’s alternative grunge music. That mod caused me to play Doom all over again from start to finish.
But now Rockstar Games has flipped the script and is busily taking these fan mods down. Why? Well, no one is certain, but likely for the most obvious reason of all.
One reason a company might become more concerned with this kind of copyright infringement is that it’s planning to release a similar product and wants to be sure that its claim to the material can’t be challenged. It’s speculative at this point, but that tracks with the rumors we heard earlier this year that Take-Two is working on remakes of the PS2 Grand Theft Auto games.
In other words, Rockstar appears to be completely happy to reap all the benefits from the modding community right up until the moment it thinks it can make more money with re-releases, at which point the company cries “Copyright!” The company may well be within its rights to operate that way, but why in the world would the modding community ever work on Rockstar games again?