Grand Theft Auto Online is a blast until you run into an invincible player with an unlimited supply of heat-seeking rockets. Video games will always have cheaters, but there’s something different about encountering them in a game like GTA Online, where it can feel like the only way to deal with them is to log off.
As first spotted by Reuters, Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Grand Theft Auto's publisher Rockstar Games, doesn’t like cheaters either and has taken steps to shut them down. A federal judge granted Take-Two interactive a temporary injunction against David Zipperer on August 16, telling Zipperer he could no longer manufacture or sell cheats designed for GTA Online. Zipperer is the guy behind the popular Menyoo and Absolute hacking programs.
The injunction is part of an ongoing lawsuit Take-Two first filed on March 23 against Zipperer, alleging that he violated its copyright by creating the cheat programs. “These alterations are intended to and do allow users to cheat while playing Take-Two’s games, both to (a) create benefits for themselves within the game that they have not purchased or earned, or (b) to alter the games of other players in the same gaming session without authorization,” Take-Two said in its initial filing.
According to court documents, Take-Two reached out to Zipperer prior to filing the lawsuit and tried to get him to take down the cheat programs on his own. “While Mr. Zipperer originally appeared cooperative and disabled access to the Menyoo program, it recently has come to Take-Two’s attention that Mr. Zipperer distributed a new cheating program titled Absolute,” court documents said. “Take-Two demanded on multiple occasions that Mr. Zipperer cease his willful and infringing conduct. Mr. Zipperer has refused to comply. Upon information and belief, Mr. Zipperer continues to infringe Take-Two’s rights.”
Take-Two initially pursued five different charges: two breaches of copyright infringement, breach of contract for breaking GTA Online’s end user license agreement, tortious breach of contract, and unfair competition. It argued that the cheat programs violated its copyright because Zipperer had to copy and alter portions of the game’s code to craft his cheat programs.
Zipperer attempted to change the venue and get the charges dismissed and Take-Two sought a temporary injunction to get him to stop selling the cheats ahead of a jury trial where it will seek a minimum of $500,000 in damages. A federal judge dismissed Take-Two’s unfair competition charge, but granted the injunction.
“Mr. Zipperer is hereby preliminarily enjoined from (a) directly or indirectly infringing Take-Two's copyrights in Grand Theft Auto V and its other video games; (b) creating derivative works based upon any portion of Grand Theft Auto V or Take-Two's other copyrighted video games; (c) producing or distributing any computer programs that alter Grand Theft Auto V or Take-Two's other copyrighted video games, including without limitation Menyoo and Absolute; and (d) participating or assisting in any such infringing activity,” read the court documents.
Take-Two has been aggressive about shutting down cheating programs in the past, even going so far as to serve legal notice against modding programs used to tweak Grand Theft Auto’s single player experience. However, Grand Theft Auto's developer Rockstar Games has previously stepped in to prevent Take-Two from shutting down mods that allow players to alter the game without interfering with other players' online experience, as seems to be the case with Zipperer's programs.
Correction: This story previously said that Take-Two Interactive is Grand Theft Auto V's publisher. Take-Two Interactive is the parent company of Rockstar Games, which publishes Grand Theft Auto V. The story has been updated to reflect this. Motherboard regrets the error.