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Team Fortress: Source 2 fan project gets a DMCA from Valve

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The Team Fortress: Source 2 project is now officially dead in the water after getting hit with a DMCA from Valve, although the creators were already stopping development.

For a quick bit of context — Team Fortress: Source 2 was a complete remake being done in s&box, which is a game creation toolkit from Facepunch, it's supposed to be a next-generation Garry's Mod. While it may be based on Source 2, it's quite different, and naturally under a specific license for Facepunch to use. That doesn't mean anyone can just use Valve's game assets inside s&box.

You can see the DMCA on GitHub which notes:

The original copyrighted work is Valve's game Team Fortress ("TF2") The TF2 assets have been ported to Source 2 without permission and are being redistributed by Amper Software in a game mode for Facepunch's S@box. Facepunch has not licensed any Valve assets for S@box. The unauthorized porting and redistributing of Valve's assets without a license violates Valve's IP.

For some reason they kept calling it S@box, but it's s&box. Quite a few thought it might be someone pretending to be working for Valve to be malicious, like apparently has happened with the take-down of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game engine OpenXRay recently.

Speaking on X (formerly Twitter), the Team Fortress: Source 2 mentioned:

While we were discussing the project's future internally recently, we already came to the conclusion to stop the development of the project due to the current state of the code being unusable anymore with s&box's recent major engine changes, and that we overall moved on from it.

And in a follow-up, mentioning this is basically the final nail in the coffin. So regardless, they were stopping anyway and it would be broken.

This has caused quite the commotion on social media, with many (even a few bigger industry names I've seen), calling out Valve about taking it down forcefully in such a way. Many arguing this is "not the Valve of old", and that Valve are "going after modders" and plenty more. But, there's a difference between modding an existing game, and remaking them entirely in a different game engine. I've said this before when it comes to Nintendo, Rockstar and *insert big name*, if you use someone else's IP, they will eventually come knocking and take it down. And in this case, it was a remake of a game that is still online and still technically (debatable I know) supported and making Valve money.

Even Garry Newman of Facepunch has now commented on the situation to make it clear too:

I think while it's maybe out of character for Valve to take down fan projects like this, it's hardly surprising when you have their entire game uploaded. I somehow don't think the "old Valve" would have let anyone port Half-Life to another engine and host it all publicly either.

S&box doesn't have a license to use Valve's content, only the engine. It's not a mod, it's not gmod. We didn't want to commit a chunk of profit so early in development when we don't even know what the final product will look like.

Amper did a really great job porting and making this all work. Sadly it was going to all be broken next week with the Scene System update, so at least this saves them the job of updating to be compatible.

Additionally, Valve also asked the creator of a recent Portal Nintendo 64 port to take it down (not a DMCA), as it used proprietary Nintendo tech. 

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Linas Jan 11
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Well, this is a clear-cut case of copyright infringement. Valve just did what any sane company would have done.
Liam Dawe Jan 11
Quoting: LinasWell, this is a clear-cut case of copyright infringement. Valve just did what any sane company would have done.
Indeed. Apex Legends was based on Source Engine. So let's dump it into s&box and see what happens yeah? Similar story. People just seem to think because s&box is originally based on Source 2, that they can use any Valve stuff and call it a "mod". This is not how the world works, and it's been a real shame to see some prominent industry names have no understanding of this at all.
CatKiller Jan 11
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QuoteFor some reason they kept calling it S@box, but it's s&box.

Everyone knows it's s#&%box.
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I see.
ToddL Jan 11
Reading the article kind of reminds me of the Torchlight situation, where a Chinese developer took assets from the game and try to make it their own version.

Last edited by ToddL on 11 January 2024 at 3:18 pm UTC
Termy Jan 11
Well, i'm absolutely no fan of the whole DMCA-Bullshit, but at least in this case ("The TF2 assets have been ported to Source 2 without permission") it's at least somewhat understandable.
TiagoMatos Jan 11
Edit: New information has come out that changed my opinion
So with new information that came out since the initial reports, I have to agree with valve in this case.
Straight reuse of Assets without authorization is just grounds for dmca takedown.

OG Comment:
I don't believe it was Valve who sent the DMCA.
There is no mention of Valve in the address given at the end of the notice (Even the STALKER one had a mention of GSC Game World (GoL article) ) even though the person making the claim says that they're part of Valve:
QuotePlease describe the nature of your copyright ownership or authorization to act on the owner's behalf.

I am part of Valve's [private], and I am authorized by Valve Corporation to act on their behalf and submit IP infringement complaints.
but let's wait to see what happens next.

Last edited by TiagoMatos on 24 January 2024 at 12:14 pm UTC
OK, I'm usually on the side of the people doing the whatever stuff, but I don't think it's just a fondness for Valve that is making me see this as somewhat different.
I mean, they were either selling, or releasing for free, a game that Valve created, owns and is also selling. It does not sound as if you had to get the assets separately from Valve, nor was it intended to play on some platform that the game did not normally run on. They were as far as I can tell distributing the whole game. The fact that they ported it to a different game engine doesn't seem to me to make any difference, any more than selling someone else's book would be OK if you had different binding. If you're going to have copyright at all, this is copyright violation.

(Mind you, I am actually in the long term on the side of "no copyright at all (as such)". But that would require a quite different society with its own ways of compensating creators for their work, and those ways are not in place. Getting rid of copyright while changing nothing else would just make things worse.)

Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 11 January 2024 at 5:39 pm UTC
ssj17vegeta Jan 11
Best example why copyright and patents on cultural material should be illegal. Even though I'm very fond of what Valve has done for Linux, let's not forget it's still a big company that acts like... a big company.
Altefier Jan 12
This has made me lose a lot of trust in Valve. I'm surprised some find excuses for it. For all intents and purposes, this really is a mod. It's TF2 with a Source 2 mod, in a sense. The thing is, the original TF2 makes money through its economy and Valve's official item servers. A simple mod, even if it's a whole engine port, cannot replicate this, so why take it down?

Let's not forget TF2 has entire overhauls readily available to download. Team Fortress 2 Classic, Pre-Fortress 2 and Open Fortress. These games also do not feature item servers, every item is available to every player from the get-go. And Valve seems to have no problem with these. What's different about the Source 2 port? And why would they take it down now after it has already been in development for years?

Last edited by Altefier on 12 January 2024 at 1:43 am UTC
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