A Grand Theft Auto mod website has said a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) strike forced a Grand Theft Auto 4 save file offline.
The people behind LibertyCity.net, which hosts mod files for a number of Grand Theft Auto games, said three files were removed after two DMCA claims received on 11th November.
The first file in question, dubbed GTA Advance PC Port Beta 2, is a fan-remake of 2004’s Grand Theft Auto Advance for Grand Theft Auto 3.
The second file is called The Lost and Damned Unlocked for GTA 4. This file, uploaded to LibertyCity in 2009, swaps GTA 4 protagonist Niko with biker Johnny Klebitz, the protagonist of the Lost and Damned DLC episode that came out in 2009.
The third is GTA IV EFLC The Lost And Damned (65%) – a save game file with 65 percent of the story completed.
“It’s not even a mod,” LibertyCity.net editor jdayke wrote in a post on the website.
All three files are now unavailable to download from LibertyCity.net.
The DMCA copyright infringement complaints, shared with Eurogamer via email, were sent by Semenov & Pevzner, a Russian law firm that specialises in copyright protection.
In March, LibertyCity received a “Letter of Ownership and Authority” from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), of which Take-Two is a member. In the letter, also reviewed by Eurogamer, the ESA authorises Semenov & Pevzner to send websites takedown notices, cease and desist letters and other communications related to the enforcement of IP rights on behalf of it and its members.
In a follow-up email conversation with Eurogamer today, jdayke said the takedowns may relate to a potential release of a remaster of Grand Theft Auto 4, which has been rumoured in recent weeks. Indeed, LibertyCity received a DMCA strike from Take-Two in July regarding mods for Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas – soon after the recently-released remasters were announced.
“We think this could be an automatic request, but previous experience shows us that it may be connected to a possible GTA 4 remaster in the future,” jdayke said.
However, jdayke said the LibertyCity team believes the GTA 4 save file takedown may be “just a bot targeting something specific in the name or description”.
Take-Two has been aggressive in its pursuit of GTA modders this year. Ahead of the announcement of the GTA Trilogy, the company shut down various long-running and much-loved San Andreas mods, and even sued the developers of the eye-catching re3 project.
Such was the intense pressure on GTA modders that in September, the lead developer of GTA Underground, one of the largest, most ambitious mods for the 16-year-old Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, announced development had ceased and all downloads hauled offline after six years of work.
In August, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick commented on the GTA mod takedowns, insisting “we were pretty flexible, frankly”.
However: “that said, if the economy is threatened, or if there’s bad behaviour and we know how to define that, then we would issue a takedown notice.”
“We are not worried that Take-Two will request to take down more mods,” jdayke told Eurogamer.
“It’s a shame for sure that the publisher thinks that mods could damage their sales, but that is what it is. The modders will find a way to publish and share their work online.”
News of a potential pursuit of GTA 4 mods from Take-Two will only fuel the ongoing backlash against the GTA Trilogy release, which can only be described as disastrous.