Last Friday, we introduced you to Luke Ross: a modder who now makes $20,000 a month on Patreon and brings big games like Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 to virtual reality. But the publisher of those games, Take-Two Interactive, apparently wasn’t amused — and Patreon is now threatening to suspend his account unless he plays ball with a DMCA takedown.
What does Take-Two want him to do? That’s not really clear, but it looks like Ross will be forced to remove his VR mods anyway.
Here’s a copy of the message Ross received from Patreon Wednesday morning, as provided to: The edge†
Jul 6, 2022, 8:54 AM PDT
My name is Richard and I am contacting you from the Patreon Trust & Safety team
We recently received a copyright claim for works you make available on Patreon. Specifically, the claim comes from Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., the parent company of Rockstar Games, Inc. and 2K Games, Inc., which owns the rights to Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Mafia Definitive Edition used in your posts on Patreon.
We ask that you remove all copyrighted works from your Patreon page. If you are unable to remove these works in a timely manner, or if we have difficulty determining the extent of the potential infringement to your page, we may suspend your account or the affected postings until all claimed materials have been removed.
For more information on what to do if you receive a DMCA against your Page, please visit: https://support.patreon.com/hc/en-us/articles/208020666-What-happens-when-I-receive-a-DMCA-notification-of-claimed-infringement-
Please note that even if you file a counterclaim, you will still be required to remove the claimed content from your page.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and for handling this claim. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Patreon Trust & Security
9am – 6pm PST
As you can see there is not much room to negotiate there. Patreon clearly states that Ross must remove “all copyrighted works” even if he appeals. And according to Patreon’s DMCA FAQ pagehe only has 48 hours to comply, though Ross tells us he hasn’t actually gotten a copy of Take-Two’s DMCA takedown request and doesn’t know what they’re asking him to remove.
What should a mud do? In a public blog post, Ross says he doesn’t believe he actually hosts copyrighted material. †[N]any of my customizations were made using software from Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc, and the customizations are not intended to replace their games, nor are they a way of modifying Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc’s proprietary IP or assets to exploit.” You have to buy the original game to make them work.
But the “it’s just mods” argument hasn’t stopped Take-Two before. There has been golf after golf from GTA V modding crackdown, and the company even filed a lawsuit when a DMCA takedown wasn’t scary enough. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick even defended the company’s behavior in a 2021 earnings call, trying to explain that Take-Two doesn’t necessarily hate mods. “That said, if the economy is under threat, or if there’s bad behavior, and we know how to define that, we’d file a takedown,” he said. Back then, it seemed like the mod’s crackdown paved the way for remastered Grand Theft Auto spell† we haven’t heard anything about an official GTA V VR mode, but it’s true that San Andreas coming to VR. It’s possible Take-Two believes Ross’s mods will dry up the demand for official VR titles. Take-Two also has filed lawsuits against mods that enable cheaterswhich is of course slightly less controversial.
Take-Two did not respond to our request for comment.
Being on Patreon, Ross doesn’t have many options, and he thinks he’ll probably be forced to remove every last mention of Rockstar’s games from the site, even if Take-Two doesn’t explain himself a little. Here’s how his message ends:
†[I]If I’m left in the dark, I can only be careful, and I won’t risk getting other games involved in the purge in the event that Patreon chooses to shut down my page. That means all posts, images, guides, recommendations, tutorials and most importantly my VR mods for GTA V, Red Dead Redemption 2, Mafia: Definitive Edition, Mafia II: Definitive Edition, Mafia III: Definitive Edition will be removed and no longer accessible are for download.
I refuse to believe that this is what Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. want, because that would be extremely anti-customer and anti-gamer action on their part. But I will not enter into a legal battle with them. If they want to assert their corporate dominance with gamers’ interests as collateral damage, I don’t have the power to stop them.
Patreon spokesperson Ellen Satterwhite says: The edge that the company will indeed contact Take-Two for more information about what is actually being claimed and has offered to put both parties in direct contact to clear things up. “We sincerely hope that direct communication between the parties will be productive,” reads part of a statement The edge. Ross plans to try that.
We asked Patreon if the 48-hour cap is still in effect or if Ross can wait for Take-Two to clarify his demands before cleaning the house.
Ross tells me he doesn’t regret taking the… roadside interview, even if it would be disastrous for his Patreon. He says, “In the battle to spread the word that only the studios and publishers (or lack thereof) want AAA games ported to VR, this is probably a sad but necessary step.”
You can read more about that alleged battle in our original story†