New Zealand GTA Mod May Face Legal Trouble

New Zealand GTA Mod May Face Legal Trouble


A New Zealand teenager is working on a mod to bring Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to his home country, but may face legal hurdles along the way.

Stacy O'Callaghan of Wellington, New Zealand, is working on a Kiwi mod for the hit Rockstar game, which includes replacing the standard in-game police uniforms and cars with detailed models of those used in his country. According to a report in, O'Callaghan's future plans for the mod include the addition of distinct New Zealand landmarks in place of the generically North American cityscape in the game. "We could use major landmarks like the Beehive, the Sky Tower or Cathedral Square," he said.

But the mod faces potential legal troubles from Section 51A of the country's Police Act, which forbids the unauthorized use of a police uniform. Although it's currently unclear how the regulations apply to videogames, police spokesman Jon Neilson said a legal team was investigating whether the mod contravened any rules regarding the use of police insignia.

"I am not doing this in any way to make money or sell this modification," said O'Callaghan, who is interested in a career in computer forensics. "It was originally for me because I got sick of all this American rubbish and wanted it to be more realistic."

"It's really just for fun and a chance to play it as if it was in New Zealand."


Hot Zealand

This is ridiculous, are they going to start checking every modification of games now?
I say, stop hating on the video game industry. There's much more pressing matters to be taking action against.

Hmmm.... It would be interesting to see if he could get by with it if slight changes were made, like the color of the uniforms. Suggestion is just as good as direct representation in games like this, and the GTA games are representations of cities themselves. So to avoid issues, just present a generalized view.

Of course I do not doubt that someone could find a problem with that as well. It is ridiculous they would push this though, since it is for entertainment, not personal gain. Then again, they probably have almost no opportunity to enforce that law, and it makes it doubly cool to enforce it when it is relating to Grand Theft Auto. They could claim that they vanquished further corruption. That is the stuff that news coverage is made of.

The phrase 'gross misapplication of the law' comes to mind. Usually these sorts of laws are meant to be used against people posing as cops.

Depending on how the statute is written, and NZ case law, the defense should be fairly straightforward. Namely, show that the law has previously only been applied to physically wearing the uniform, and never as an intellectual property right.


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