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I am asking this question primarily as a follow up to this question: Is creating and selling "cheats" or "hacks" for games illegal?

The consensus in that question seems that it is illegal to create derivative works from a particular copyrighted piece of software. However, with the rising popularity of Linux and open source software, proprietary game manufacturers are allowing their content to be run on open source systems.

It is universally accepted that I may modify a GPL program at will as long as if I distribute the modifications, I also distribute the changes to the source as well.

Now suppose I obtain a license to play a game in which I would like to cheat. I do not attempt to reverse engineer the game code or modify the program code directly. In fact my sole interaction with the game is running it consistent with the license. However, most programs rely on libraries. Most libraries such as libc or similar are open source. Could I modify the behavior of the function calls in such a way as to “cheat”? Would that be in compliance with the law?

What if I make modifications to the kernel or graphics drivers that prevent my graphics card from “properly” rendering the things on my screen? Is that a violation of the law?

  • Just because a game can be played on Linux does not mean that it is open source, GPL compatible, or even uses non-proprietary binaries. Even if you were to modify libc and recompile it with your cheats baked in, that does not mean that the game will magically work. There are many anti-cheat mechanisms in modern games, but even an on startup checksum test of the files could prevent the game from working. Chances are, the binary you built would have a different checksum than what they're expecting, and would simply fetch the resource from the game's authority. – Zymus Nov 8 '18 at 0:48
  • @Zymus yes I am aware. This is an abstract question. On an even more abstract level I could modify my processor to process the opcodes the program uses to process them in a different way. – Viktor Nov 8 '18 at 1:25
  • Is this an online game we are talking about? Many (or all?) of those have terms of services attached. If you cheat in any way, including in ways that are 100% legal from a legal perspective, you will likely be banished from that game community. On the other hand, if you cheat on a game that you are playing just on your own computer, no one will care. – Brandin Nov 8 '18 at 5:53
  • @Brandin I am strictly asking about legality not about anything else. – Viktor Nov 8 '18 at 5:58
  • You need to provide more details for it to be answerable. For example, if the game is also open sourced and local, then no, there is no legal problem. If the game is local, but you cheat without reverse engineering it, there is probably no problem. If the game is a network game, and you modify your system to cheat on the network, you will potentially have the same problems as described in the linked questions. The manner in which you cheat does not matter for the TOS. Suppose you develop a robot that looks at your screen and controls your gamepad. That will likely still be considered cheating. – Brandin Nov 8 '18 at 6:02

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