12 February 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

English IP court backs GTA makers in cheat code suit

England’s Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court (IPEC) has found a cheat code distributor liable for infringing the copyright for the best-selling video game of all time, “Grand Theft Auto V”.

In a decision issued last month but just made public, the court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs on claims of copyright infringement, and inducing breach of contract.

The case was brought by the game’s publisher, Take-Two Interactive Software, and its developer, Rockstar Games, against five individuals linked to cheat software application, Epilson.

With the claims against three of the defendants having already been settled, the IPEC ruled on claims relating to the remaining two individuals, who admitted to having been involved in Epilson.

The program is known as a “mod menu” and offers users to gameplay so as to give them an advantage.

According to Take-Two and Rockstar, these mod menus are particularly harmful in the context of online gameplay, when there can be up to 30 players at any one time.

There is also a financial loss to the companies in that mod menus can allow players to generate virtual goods and currency they would normally have to purchase using real money.

While the defendants made a disclaimer of liability to Epilson users when offering the service for online gameplay, the IPEC agreed with the plaintiffs that this was “mere window-dressing”.

“In particular, they rely on having obtained the means to produce Epsilon by downloading information from other sites, including, they say, a popular and well-known public cheating site, from which they say they downloaded the source code. However, public availability of the means to infringe copyright is not a defence to copyright infringement,” the decision read.

A claim for breach of contract against one of the defendants was not granted by the court as he was under 18 at the time.

While the court issued summary judgment on matters of liability, justice Sarah Falk acknowledged that a trial of quantum may still be required to settle the issue of costs.

But the judge said she was “hopeful that that may prove unnecessary because the parties may reach agreement”.

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9 April 2019   A US district court has granted video game developer Take-Two Interactive's request for a permanent injunction against a coder who profited by creating cheats for the “Grand Theft Auto” series.