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Friday, July 15, 2005

Rockstar has no worries. Mods have worries.

There's been a lot of foaming about the blood in the water for Rockstar. Hilary Clinton and a certain Floridian whacko lawyer have gotten together. Game developers are decrying Rockstar for making them look bad. Rockstar's PR efforts have been questioned widely if not simply openly mocked.

For the record, I think the truth is somewhere in between Rockstar's releases and the mod author claims. And it should be noted that all the mod author has to do is release his source code to publically solve this quandry. Why shouldn't he, it's not like he could sell it.

Some people might read that and say, why can't he? Well, that's because by installing the game he agreed to an End User License Agreement, or EULA, which almost certainly states that he can't profit on software related to GTA without permission from Rockstar. This agreement has been the legal barrier for the mod community since around the time mods began. You can play with the code, but don't try to act like you have a license to the engine.

However, the Hot Coffee mod may not even be protected by that. Simply releasing a tool to hack into the code may break the EULA, as has been in the case before. Eidos attempted to crack down on the notorious Lara Craft nude patch and Tecmo cracked down on nude DOA's under these auspices.

The point being that while it seems like the cannibals are swarming, Rockstar isn't in much hot water here. Every game shipped today has protections for hacks like this and wonderful laws like the DCMA only make them stronger. Even if Rockstar provided animations of big bouncing boobies, it's not their fault that a user broke the EULA.

So people like Hilary have no case. Which is fine for them. They don't need one. They just need soundbites and reasons to pound podiums for a while. It's not like they're going to actually have to do anything about it, other than win brownie points.

The real losers here will be the mod community. While people like Valve and Epic will undoubtably try to hold onto their cash cows and folks like Will Wright will continue to try and push forth "user worlds", most companies will look at all of this hubbub and at their next board meeting decide that being permissive with users and their content isn't worth the legal flak. They won't allow any dev time for mod tools and they'll double check their EULAs to allow crackdowns just in case.

And if these people who are currently lamblasting decide to turn their gaze towards the mod community being unrestricted, there will be real hell to pay.


Brinstar said...

It's amazing how, every summer (or so it seems), America finds something new and inconsequential (in the grand scheme of things) to get worked up about...

There are so many more important things to deal with... The two wars it is fighting, a top official leaking the identity of a CIA agent, the fact that Bush isn't being held accountable for misinformation leading to an expensive war, the fact that Bin Laden still hasn't been caught, etc. etc. etc.

Josh said...

Totally agreed.

I'm an avid NPR listener and am quite glad I haven't heard any of this drek on there. With the events of London, the war in Iraq and America's current political woes ... this doesn't even rank as inconsequential.

Jeffool said...

Actually, it seems that there are Action Replay Max codes that allow PS2 users to taste 'hot coffee'.

Jeffool said...

What I (obviously) mean to say is, the code is real and on the disc, just 'turned off'. So users are turning it back on. If someone 17+ isn't old enough to see poorly modeled, extremely texelated boobs, would that make a porn-game "xxx" rather than AO?

Playboy - The Mansion got a Mature rating.

I honestly just don't get it.

Josh said...

The code may be real and on the disc, but it still requires a code change to make it viewable/playable. So their still breaking their EULA. The extent of the mod may be debatable, but the outcome remains the same.

And it should be noted that there many variations of the Hot Coffee mod. One suggests that all it does is flip a flag in order to make the coffee scenes available, but the models are clothed, etc. Then there are other modifications which add nudity, etc.