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Update III:

The ESA has apologized for erroneously issuing DMCA claims:

“ESA was notified this morning that potentially erroneous DMCA notices had been transmitted by one of its vendors,” the organization told Ars. “Upon further review, it was determined that the notices should not have been sent and retractions were issued immediately. We regret any inconvenience and have taken steps to avoid similar situations in the future.”

With Techland reporting that the issue was the unintended side-effect of stopping cheaters on its and now ESA confirming and rectifying the mistake with DMCA, it is safe to assume this controversy can be put to bed.

Update II:

An employee of Techland has issued a statement regarding the DMCA complaints. They are under investigation.


Techland has issued a statement regarding the controversy surrounding the modding of Dying Light. Apparently, it was an accident.

With the recent patch (1.2.1) on Steam we blocked cheating to make sure the game’s PvP system (Be The Zombie) would not be abused. This, however, had the side-effect of hindering mod-makers from making changes to the game.

There was no intention on Techland’s part to block modders and the company even stated their own success with mods in their previous game Dead Island as proof of their appreciation for modding. A ‘quick patch’ is in the pipeline to fix the issue.

No word on the alleged DMCA complaints, though as we stated, that maybe an issue taken up by Warner Bros and the ESA.

We will keep you updated on any further developments.

Original story:

If you are a Dying Light player and cannot stand the film grain, good news. There is a mod to remove it. The bad news? Techland, the developers behind Dying Light, think you are cheating.

The latest patch notes of v1.2.1, there is a statement:

• blocked cheating by changing game’s data files

As the Reddit post stated:

Among other things, we can no longer create or edit items for the single-player campaign.

You would think that would be a strong enough message to modders to seek the exit, but Techland has been using DMCA to further punish modders for taking advantage of the game they bought.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Techland, via their publisher Warner Bros (an ESA member), is using the ESA’s partnership with MarkMonitor to file DMCA claims against mods. Yes, they’re abusing the DMCA to fight modders. They’re not fighting software piracy; they’re fighting customers, enthusiasts, fans.

As the post further states, Techland was practically on the opposite side of the modding spectrum when it came to its Dead Island mods.

Remember when Dead Island mods were featured on PC Gamer and other major websites?

Remember when the Dead Island modding thread was stickied in the Steam forum?

Remember when Hellraid was just a weapon mod for Dead Island made by one of Techland’s own developers?

Why the sudden 180 degree spin? The answer may lie with the change in publishers. Dead Island was published by Deep Silver. Warner Bros may be calling the shots in this case. The ESA’s own stance on content protection sheds further light on what might the hand of the publisher involved and not necessarily Techland’s choice.

Q5: What are the rules for console modification?

A5: Copyright owners often use technological protection measures (TPMs) to control or manage access to their works by preventing the unauthorized copying or use of their games. TPMs play an important role in the maintaining the viability of the legitimate market for developing and selling video games, which in turn protects everyone who depends on that market for their income and livelihood (from game designers to retail store clerks). Congress recognized the importance of these technologies in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and outlawed the manufacturing and distribution of products or services that are aimed at circumventing these copy and access protections. Those caught selling such devices or services may be subject to criminal prosecution and/or held liable for civil damages resulting from such activities.

Q6: What types of infringement does the ESA Content Protection Program focus on?

A6: All types. ESA’s enforcement activities target both online and physical distribution of infringing game code and the sale of devices or services employed to circumvent TPMs. ESA works with websites, search engines, website hosting service providers and others to ensure that notices submitted by our organization adequately describe the infringement and its location and result in prompt removal of access to infringing material.

[Bold emphasis mine]

As an ESA member Warner Bros, and by proxy as their partner on the game, Techland, can technically make the case that film grain mods and even modding in general may be unauthorized uses of Dying Light by infringing on its code and intended use. In fact, that is exactly what one of those served was informed of by the ESA. What is interesting about the complaint is the statement:

…the attached list of titles is a “representative list” identifying a sample of the works infringed. The attached list is not by any means exhaustive of the ESA member works infringed by and through your website. As the law makes clear, a copyright claimant need not identify every infringing work on a site, but rather only a representative list of such works at that site. Having been so informed of the nature and scope of infringement being claimed, the site operator must act to address all infringement on that website, not merely the identified representative examples.

How an alleged violator is supposed to know what ‘all’ of his or hers infringements in order to avoid repeated DMCA complaints is anyone’s guess. However, from an owner’s perspective, it is a puzzling stance. If they are not selling the game and are upfront and transparent about their modding of said game for recreational use, then why the complaint?

Modding is among the most effective means of extending the life cycle of a product. The Skyrim mods over at Nexus are the gold standard example of that. If Techland and Warner Bros can give a substantive answer to why it is censoring mods, especially in light of its stark contrast to its past behavior, then perhaps  actions may be warranted. For now, this looks like an abuse of DMCA protocols.

What is your take on what Techland is doing? Do you think it is Warner Bros calling the shots? Do they have the right to do so? Does modding truly threaten copyright holders? Sound off in the comments below.

Nader Hobballah

I am the current manager of the video game review page The Murfreesboro Pulse. You can check out my work over there. I enjoy PC games in general. I also delve into consoles from time to time.

  • TheEdgeLord

    Your own fault for buying stuff from a’holes

  • Fenrir007

    More attempts at turning PC games into consolized crap.

    They are completely within their legal right to do this, but it’s highly immoral to do so, especially since the game worked just fine with mods up to now and they never indicated a “no mod” stance before.

    If this is about cheating, then let it work in single player.

  • More reason not to buy this game then

  • Dissentient

    It’s aside form the fact that it’s impossible to make this game run at 60 FPS with any hardware.

    Since the game itself is fairly mediocre, it’s better to just never buy it and forget about it.

  • Ryan P.

    Forget the Skyrim mods. A better example would be the Morrowind mods, since, you know, there are still mods coming out for that game. And it’s from, what… 2002?

    But yeah, fuck this anti-modding bullshit.

  • WhiteNut

    In no way will this help their game, this will push people to pirate this game out of spite, people will still mod the game, and the sun shall rise in the east and set in the west such is the way of the world. I mean to actively go out and prevent people from playing their game their own way is one of the worst things you could do.

  • WhiteNut

    Man, Morrowind was so great to mod. Super easy interface, the learning curb was simple, and it was easy to fix if an issue arose. And the mods people made were so amazing. I do hope one day they rerelease morrowind with an overhaul to everything. That’d be real nice

  • JaBooty

    Yo ho, motherfuckers.

  • Kim Brant

    Yeah, glad I pirated this. I was gonna wait and buy it until they had released a proper performance patch (the game runs like shit on most AMD cards), but now I just won’t buy it at all even after they release a performance fix.

  • Spectrumpigg

    So… If I am not satisfied with certain aspects of a game and proceed to mod it, it is now violating a copyright?

    Why in the hell, of all things, would you disallow a mod? How is it cheating? This is just as bad as BF3 and removing the color grade to the game because EA thought it was cheating.

  • SevTheBear

    They have lost their mind. Let people mod the game as they want. I could understand if this was an online only game and modding could make it possible for players to cheat. But this makes no sense what so ever for a mostly SP and co-op game only >_<

  • Ryan Juel

    Dying light is kill.

  • Bobbbbby5

    To block mods is one thing, but to actively go after them with DMCA is more than a little extreme. Now that this is out in the open they’re going to have to give a pretty good answer to get back in good standings.

  • Rogar the Greater

    Even better: Doom. It came out in 1992, and one of its most popular mods (Brutal Doom) was made five years ago.

    Killing mod support kills your game’s life span.

  • WhiteNut

    They’re going to have to do more than give pretty good answers to get back into good graces with their community.

  • Chris Johnson

    If modding was never allowed in the first place we wouldn’t have Team Fortress or Counter Strike. Some people even bought Half Life because of the mods for it. Even more bought it after playing the retail versions and learning of their origins.

  • amdc

    r9-280x can carry this game to 60fps. Sometimes. In buildings/sewers. But on streets it lags at ~35-45 fps

  • Jonathan Ferrier

    Looks like I won’t be getting this title after all.

  • Jesse Liles

    The film grain’mod’ can be easily done with notepad and 7zip by anybody capable of following simple instructions. To distribute this ‘mod’ would involve distribution of Dying Light game scripts, which violates copyright law. If they didn’t pursue this violation they would be giving up their ability to pursue more serious violations in the future. They aren’t trying to stop you from modifying your own game, they’re trying to stop online distribution of game files.

  • Reynard Austin

    > If they didn’t pursue this violation they would be giving up their ability to pursue more serious violations in the future.

    This is false, the only branch of copyright law that requires Active enforcement is Trademark, which has nothing to do with the DMCA. Trademark law is related to the branding, (i.e. you can’t sell cola with a red and white ribbon design,) DMCA is used for general creative works copyright (i.e. uploading a movie for other people to download.) It is completely unacceptable for a company to use the DMCA to remove mods from the web, even if they allowed cheating in multiplayer, let alone simple single player mods.

    Unfortunately, the DMCA is the easiest route if someone wants something gone from the web because there are no repercussions for false claims, nor can someone raise the defense of Fair Use in most cases.

  • Dissentient

    Well, of course. But it’s the minimum that counts.

  • jjj0309

    What a fucking load of BS.
    I’ve been a fan of Techland since the original Call of Juarez. Yes, even the buggy mass launch of Dead Island, even the whole ‘Be The Zombie’ pre-order bonus atrocity, I was believing in this guys until now.

    Ramdomly launching personal DMCA attack on the internet is like dancing with the devil, even for today’s industry standard.
    This is whole different level of onslaught against customers. This is not some ordinary greedy business like DLC or DRM. This is outright evil and complete abuse of power.

    The gruesome reality is that today’s consumers are so brainwashed many people will just simply say “Thank you, Techland! Thank you for blocking mods and freedom! Fuck this cheaters and HaX0rs in the ass and take away more rights from me!”.
    And they’ll blame pirates. Always blame pirates.

    I just.. can’t take it anymore. Is there any hope for the future left in this industry?

  • Mastax1234

    haha and im damn glad i pirated it, fuck them

  • arealgamer

    Good! Modders are parasites on the gaming community and have ruined most titles like cod and gta, hopefully techland can keep these scumbag cheaters off the game.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    It’s good they finally fixed it.

  • Pythag

    different kind of modder, console modding is cheating, PC modding is adding new content