Rockstar Seems to Reinstate Open IV Modding Tool, Clarifies Position on Modding
The situation with modding in GTA V and other Rockstar games just keeps getting weirder. In yet another series of unexpected twists in the recent controversy around Open IV and Grand Theft Auto modding, it appears that Open IV has resumed operations. No official notice has been posted on the Open IV website explaining the circumstances, but a new build of Open IV has been pushed out to users via the included update function; this would indicate that internal discussions between Open IV and Rockstar/Take-Two have been fruitful in restoring the mod’s services.
However, it’s possible that Open IV may remain in a sort of “holding pattern” for some time. I’d recommend waiting for an official response from them before assuming the drama surrounding the cease and desist is over.
Along with this apparent shift in position, Rockstar and Take-Two have updated their formal policy to clarify how they feel about mods in their games. Within the FAQ containing the clarification, they made it crystal clear that they will continue to pursue taking down mods or hacks that target multiplayer modes in their titles. just like they did in their takedown of Force Hax.
Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project. This is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization of any third-party project. Take-Two reserves the right to object to any third-party project, or to revise, revoke and/or withdraw this statement at any time in their own discretion. This statement does not constitute a waiver of any rights that Take-Two may have with respect to third-party projects.
The biggest takeaway is that Take-Two will no longer pursue legal action against single player mods in most cases. It’s pretty much standard-fare legalese concerning the defense of Take-Two and Rockstar IP. They have to make it clear that the creation of mods or usage of owned IP can and will result in potential legal action if the mod creator uses unlicensed IP within said mod(s), or creates content Take-Two don’t want associated with their game. Take-Two will likely continue using their legal authority over their IP to take down mods they object to. Of course they’ll be walking a very fine line from here on out due to the damage this recent debacle. This doesn’t mean Take-Two can weaponize the legal system against modders perse, but it’s still unclear as to what Take-two use for criteria in what they object to.
It’s likely that some people in the community will feel insecure in the fact that these policies allow Take-Two to still remove any mods they deem unsavory or unwanted. To those people, I would say that this policy isn’t really that strange in terms of the gaming industry. One would be hard pressed to defend any modders creating highly offensive content using Rockstar IP. Rockstar and Take-Two have a legal right and obligation to defend their property, it’s just a bad series of circumstances that led to this current drama. The issue is less about Take-Two specifically and more about the interaction between copyright law and free expression in my humble opinion. It’s a question of how far modding should be allowed to go. But I doubt Take-Two or Rockstar feel like trying to push the boundaries in that regard right now.
It would be nice if the policies were updated to include clear definitions of the types of “safe” mods, but I would imagine some segment of the community would find objection with anything they deem to restrictive at this point.
All in all, this kerfuffle over modding and IP will continue for some time with GTA V, especially since users are still bombing the Steam reviews of GTA V with negatives.
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