Australian court orders home search of alleged GTA V software cheat

The 'Infamous' cheat on Grand Theft Auto V has led to two premises in Melbourne being searched under a Federal Court order.

The Australian Federal Court has ordered two homes in Melbourne to be searched following legal proceedings by Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive over one person allegedly making cheat software for Grand Theft Auto V.

As reported first by the BBC, court documents [PDF] from September and made available now specified that the premises of Christopher Anderson, Cyrus Lesser, "sfinktah", Koroush Anderson, and Koroush Jeddian -- which it noted may be one person -- and the occupant/s of Unit 8, 24 Parnell Street and 34 Oswald Street, both in Elsternwick, Victoria, be searched.

The documents also allowed a trio of vehicles with the Victorian number plates to be searched.

According to the court documents, the things being searched for included computer disks, drives, or memory; electronic information storage devices or systems; and all things evidencing, and referring to, the development, distribution, offering for sale, and sale of software titled "Infamous" or software intended for use with GTA V.

Those searching the property included "independent computer experts", who were allowed to copy, photograph, film, sample, test, and record the above.

"An independent computer expert may search and make a copy or digital copy of (any part of) any computer, computer disk, drive or memory, and electronic information storage device or system not physically located at the premises but otherwise accessible by you from the premises, including without limitation any offsite data storage platforms/services and cloud platforms/services," the documents say, also prohibiting the respondent from directly or indirectly informing anyone of the existence of the proceeding or order.

Another September court order [PDF] froze the respondent/s' assets.

"You must not remove from Australia or in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of any of your assets in Australia (Australian assets) up to the unencumbered value of AU$286,609.80," the documents say.

The case is set to have a hearing on October 31.

The Australian government is increasingly moving against electronic copyright infringement, including by modernising the Copyright Act.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11), which passed Australian Parliament this week, would also see criminal and civil penalties pushed for piracy and unlicensed use of software.

Similar to the previous TPP, under Chapter 18 [PDF] of the new Pacific rim trade agreement, civil remedies are set out under as being injunctive relief, as well as paying compensatory damages including "any legitimate measure of value the right holder submits", such as lost profits and the market value of the infringed content.

TPP 11 members should also establish a system with pre-established damages that compensate the rights holder for "harm caused by the infringement", and/or additional damages that take into account "the nature of the infringing conduct and the need to deter similar infringements in the future".

Criminal penalties, meanwhile, are set out for cases of piracy on a commercial scale, and include sentences of imprisonment and monetary fines "sufficiently high to provide a deterrent to future acts of infringement, consistent with the level of penalties applied for crimes of a corresponding gravity".

"Judicial authorities have the authority to order the forfeiture or destruction of: All counterfeit trademark goods or pirated copyright goods; materials and implements that have been predominantly used in the creation of pirated copyright goods or counterfeit trademark goods; and any other labels or packaging to which a counterfeit trademark has been applied and that have been used in the commission of the offence," Article 18.77 adds.

Overall, the chapter encourages balancing copyright protection with innovation and the "diffusion of information, knowledge, technology, culture, and the arts".

Earlier on Thursday, the Australian government also introduced legislation to Parliament that would see its piracy site-block laws expanded.

The government's piracy site-block amendment expands injunctions to search engine providers, reduces the burden of proving that a site is hosted outside of Australia, and expands it to sites that not only have the 'primary purpose' to those that have the 'primary effect' of infringing copyright.

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