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A Melbourne man has developed a cheating for Grand Theft Auto Online. Then, the house of raids



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By: New York Times Melbourne |

Published: November 8, 2018 5:09:03 PM


Grand Theft Auto Online, Video Games, Grand Theft Auto Online Cheat, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive Software, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 Since its release in 2013, "Grand Theft Auto V" has reached billions this year, something more than any film in history.

Imagine that you are struggling by car through a crowded city center. You are in the first place, just a few seconds after the victory, when suddenly a rocket explodes and kills you. Until we come back to life – you are playing a video game – you are far behind the fleet. But your attacker, despite being hit and shot, stands intact.

For gamers of the popular Grand Theft Auto Online, such scenarios are not uncommon when they face competitors using an unauthorized plug-in known as Infamous, allowing them to become undefeated, teleport or get unlimited weapons, vehicles and currency.

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But the game publisher, Rockstar Games, and its parent, Take-Two Interactive Software, are boosting their response – all over the world – to what they see as simple cheats. They have filed at least five lawsuits in the United States, Europe and Australia, with the most recent case involving a search and seizure order against Christopher Anderson, a Melbourne man linked to Infamous.

While the move has been welcomed by some players, it has irritated others who claim that video games (like other electronic spheres) must be open and cooperative. creators working outside of large companies often develop modifications that improve the players' experiences.

The repression has also raised wider questions about the scope of the copyright law, which some scholars see as a possible threat to freedom of speech, and whether search and seizure commands go far beyond policing e-courtesy.

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"Fighters tend to destroy the game's experience for others, but not all antisocial is illegal, nor should it be," said Mitch Stoltz, senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco, privacy and free speech.

Stoltz said the legal arguments put forward by game publishers have pushed the limits of the copyright law, which generally applies to the creation of permanent copies instead of temporary modifications. Changing a game "does not actually distribute a new version of the game, as watching a movie through colored glasses does not watch a new movie," he said.

There is a lot of money at stake.

Since it was released in 2013, Grand Theft Auto V has reached $ 6 billion, which is more than any movie in history. Until recently, players could easily download Infamous for use with the online version of "Grand Theft Auto." Prices ranged from a few dollars to about $ 40 for a member of life.

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But earlier this year, Infamous was logged out after a series of legal actions from game developers against "modders" or people who modified games in a way that the original designers did not intend.

Take-Two Interactive has made legal action against fraudsters in New York, Florida, Britain and Germany for copyright infringement. Epic Games – the creator of Fortune's popular multiplayer game – also filed multiple lawsuits against YouTube users in North Carolina, who promoted the use of online fraud. (One of them was a 14 year old.)

While Take-Two Interactive is based in the United States, defendants' cases are subject to copyright law in their countries. Free trade agreements and agreements have helped standardize how these laws work, say legal experts, making it easier for businesses to police their products across national borders.

But for gamers, the cases and the severity of the enforcement are often surprising.

In September, the Australian Federal Judge issued orders against Anderson – who is also known online as "sfinktah", "Koroush Anderson" and "Koroush Jeddian" – allowing him to freeze his fortune and search his home in Melbourne. (The address of Anderson's neighbor, which he said he once used for delivery to the Amazon, was also searched for.)

The use of search and seizure orders in copyright cases is not unusual in Australia, said Nicolas Suzor, a law and digital media researcher at Queensland University of Technology. However, having them in a closed meeting room without representing the defendant, he is concerned, he said. Anderson agreed.

"They can not technically protect the software, so they use disarming tactics," said Anderson, 42, standing outside his home in Southeast Melbourne, on a porch with broken electronics, a faded shopping cart and a cactus.

The raid, Anderson said, came after weeks of surveillance. Early in the morning of September 25, computers and hard drives were seized. Anderson, who currently does not have a job, has also been forbidden to use or dispose of any assets – excluding the costs of moderate living – and has been prevented from further developing or distributing Infamous and any other fraudulent software.

Otherwise, the court's decision could lead to his imprisonment. He acts as his own lawyer, he said, and has not yet filed a defense. "I'm beating," Anderson told gaming publishers, arguing that the search and seizure command was a disproportionate answer. Infamous was designed to help gamers fight off cheaters using more terrible modifications, almost like an antivirus software, he said.

But Alex Walker, author of the Kotaku Australia game site, said Infamous was "just a simple cheating." Fraudsters, he said, "break and exploit parts of the game code to take advantage of a player's experience at the expense of other players." "It's really harmful to the community," he added.

In a statement given to The New York Times, Take-Two Interactive stated that "it is committed to protecting the multiplayer community from harassment and other disturbances in shared entertainment experiences."

"We can and will continue to take legal action against those who interfere with the multiplayer environment enjoyed by our audiences," the company said.

Take-Two Interactive coincides with the release of her newest game, "Red Dead Redemption II" – a highly anticipated sequel to the Western Adventure Game, where players can freely explore a built universe instead of following a structured set of events . Suppressing the business to "mod" developers, experts say, may be a warning for aspiring cheaters developers as well as a sales effort.

According to the latest Take-Two Interactive annual report, gaming costs by fans – for the virtual currency or costumes, for example – accounted for 42% of net revenue. This business model, experts say, is increasingly threatened by "mods," which can offer the same items for free (or a sum that goes to "modder" and not to the game publisher).

"Video game publishers and developers are being forced into a lasting virtual" arms race "to update their products and security technology before vendors can update their own," said the Entertainment Software Association last month at the US Office Commercial Representative.

Still, copyright policy may not be the best way to tackle the problem, said Meredith Rose, a public policy consultant and expert on intellectual property rights, a Washington defense group focused on digital rights for consumers. He said the ban on individual fighters, for example, would be a fairer and more effective answer. "The proportionality of the hammer is completely out of scale with the damage that is being done," Rose said.

Even if justice was justified when it came to fighters, he added that cases could be a dangerous precedent: copyright and circumvention laws could also be used to prevent competition, criticism of corporate policies or reports for vulnerabilities.

Contracts that accompany video game downloads and other multimedia products often include clauses that allow a wide range of "Draco" corporate police officers, said Stoltz, a lawyer at San Francisco. When courts around the world are eager to "turn off print violations in heavy hands," he said, makes everyone vulnerable to "the whims of every company we do business with the internet."

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