Minecraft is, without doubt, one of the most iconic and recognizable videogames of recent times.
The game was originally created by Markus “Notch” Persson, who also founded Mojang Studios, which continues to develop the software today.
In the years following its first release in 2011, Minecraft captured a truly massive audience. With more than 238 million copies sold, it’s also the best-selling video game in history, a reign that looks set to continue.
Minecraft’s success inspired a subset of players to get creative by tinkering with the original game. Homebrew Minecraft mods and hacks that spice up the action are in plentiful supply.
Mojang is totally fine with this, as long as people don’t charge money or distribute modded copies of the game. Mods can’t use substantial content or code from the original game either, so when the rules get broken, Mojang reserves the right to step in and take action.
This week, the Microsoft-owned game studio did exactly that. Mojang sent a DMCA takedown notice to its sister company GitHub, targeting 92 copyright-infringing repositories. All repositories are reportedly linked to copies of Eaglercraft.
Eaglercraft is a Minecraft variant playable in a web browser. This can come in handy for people who want to bypass blocking measures, which are common on some networks, schools included. Another main perk is that this Minecraft variant is totally free.
After seeing enough, Mojang urged GitHub to take the repositories offline, citing trademark and copyright infringements.
“The Repo and corresponding websites are a remake (decompile) of Minecraft 1.3. Their repo states this and the website running their code clearly shows a 100% reuse of our code and assets,” the game studio writes.
The takedown request was successful and the repositories were swiftly removed from the developer platform. Instead, visitors will now see a notice pointing them to the DMCA takedown request.
This isn’t the first time that Mojang has gone after browser-based copies of Minecraft, and Eaglercraft isn’t a new target either. Over the past several months, Mojang has been working hard to take these free copies offline.
Eaglercraft Developer Gets Creative
Eaglercraft developer “lax1dude” took down the code from his own website after running into trouble with Mojang. However, he didn’t stop tinkering; on the contrary.
Lax1dude’s GitHub account currently lists an “EaglercraftX 1.8” repository that provides tools and instructions on how to decompile Minecraft 1.8.
Mojang may disapprove of this repo, but Lax1dude believes the game company can’t take it offline. The repository doesn’t include any copyrighted code or other infringing content.
“Attention Mojang/Microsoft employee assigned to stalk me: this repository does not contain your intellectual property. Filing a false DMCA is illegal and immoral,” the developer writes in all caps.
Whether Mojang agrees is yet to be seen. Simply using Minecraft images and the trademark can already cause trouble, depending on the context, so this dispute might not be completely over just yet.
At the time of publication, Lax1dude’s EaglercraftX 1.8 repository is still online.