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This page refers to the add-on by Micro Star Software that was the subject of a landmark court case. For the German add-on of the same name, see Scenariomania: Nuke It!

Nuke It is an unauthorized series of shovelware expansion packs for Duke Nukem 3D. Notably, it is also the subject of Micro Star v. FormGen Inc, a landmark court case that significantly expanded the power of copyright in US digital media.

All of the Nuke It expansion packs were published in 1996 by Micro Star Software under their "CrystalVision" software brand and were sold illegally on the North American and European markets. On September 11, 1998, an injunction by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit required Micro Star to cease distribution.

It is often incorrectly claimed that Micro Star later acquired a license from 3D Realms to publish authorized versions of the expansion pack; in fact, all Nuke It products were published in 1996, prior to the 1998 legal injunction against them.

Series

Micro Star created the expansion packs by re-packaging user maps they downloaded from the Internet. There were three expansion packs in total.

Nuke It v2.0 (Original)

Versioning of the commercial product begins with version 2.0. Version 1.0 was never publicly distributed.

The original version of Nuke It was published June 25, 1996 and includes the following content:

  • 336 user maps, including 55 multiplayer maps and 27 map editing examples
  • 374 KB of custom in-game graphics
  • EditCon software utility for editing CON files
  • Map editing tutorial comprised of 13 TXT files, 1 DOC file on constructing subways, and 27 MAP files to illustrate key concepts
  • 24 in-game screenshots that can be used as desktop wallpapers
  • List of in-game cheat codes

All copies of the commercial disc contain a file titled "REVISION.TXT", which reads:

"Nuke It"
Version 2.0
06/25/96
New release.

Nuke It v2.01 (Reissue)

In an attempt to minimize potential copyright infringement, Micro Star quickly reissued a "version 2.01" of the expansion on July 22, 1996, less than a month after the initial release.

The reissue is identical to the original, except for the following changes:

  • The packaging has been redesigned without any in-game screenshots or copyrighted Duke Nukem artwork, and a new legal disclaimer has been added to the front cover
  • Apparently rushed, the CD-ROM lacks any original artwork and instead consists of a generic 700 MB Windata CD-ROM with the words "Nuke It - Over 300 new levels for Duke Nukem 3D" written on it in permanent marker
  • All of the 24 in-game screenshots that were included as desktop wallpapers in the original version have been removed
  • The file "REVISION.TXT" has been modified and now reads:
"Nuke It"
Version 2.0
06/25/96
New release.
_____

V2.01
7/22/96
Remove SS files

Nuke It 1000

A California district court ruling on September 30, 1996 required Micro Star to remove in-game screenshots from the Nuke It packaging and CD-ROM that contained copyrighted Duke Nukem imagery. These requirements were consistent with changes already made for the v2.01 reissue, but nevertheless, a new version was published two weeks later.

On October 9, 1996, Micro Star published Nuke It 1000, the third and final installment of the Nuke It series. "Version 2.0" is printed on the CD-ROM, suggesting Micro Star always denotes the first-to-market version as 2.0. This version includes all content from the Nuke It v2.01 reissue, but it features the following changes:

  • User maps now totaling 1,118 levels, including 537 multiplayer maps and 74 map editing examples
  • Expanded 3.03 MB of custom in-game graphics
  • Reworked and expanded map editing tutorial, now with 12 TXT files, 1 DOC file on constructing subways, and 74 MAP file examples
  • New front-end for launching the game (prior versions did not have a front-end)
  • New packaging with in-game screenshots; these screenshots depicted empty areas without any enemies, weapons, or other copyrighted imagery
  • New cover art for the CD-ROM

International editions

Numerous unauthorized expansion packs for Duke Nukem 3D were sold illegally in the years following the game's debut, but 3D Realms never brought lawsuits against any of the other publishers. One likely contributing factor was the size and scope of Micro Star's distribution network; not only were they able to bring Nuke It to market within two months from Duke Nukem 3D's release, they were able to sell it in all 50 states, translate it into multiple languages, and extend sales to several other countries, even securing a featured review in The Irish Times. It is possible 3D Realms never even knew of the other unauthorized expansion packs and only discovered Nuke It due to Micro Star's massive reach.

There are at least three known international editions of the Nuke It expansion packs that have been documented online:

  • A Spanish translation of Nuke It v2.0
  • A Russian translation of Nuke It v2.0
  • An EU edition of Nuke It 1000 with translations in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, as well as an "18+" BBFC rating printed on the cover art

Court case

Nuke It became the subject of a 1996 court case when FormGen, GT Interactive, and 3D Realms (Apogee) filed a lawsuit against Micro Star, requesting an injunction to stop them from selling Nuke It on the grounds of copyright infringement. Micro Star objected that 3D Realms openly promoted the sharing of user maps on the Internet.

Initially, the district court denied the injunction, but in 1997, the case was brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On September 11, 1998, the Court ruled in Micro Star v. FormGen Inc. that the product was not fair use and that Micro Star could no longer sell Nuke It without purchasing a license from 3D Realms. The Court noted that, although 3D Realms promotes the sharing of user maps, they explicitly require that the maps be distributed free of charge. Moreover, some of the packaging included with the product contained copyrighted imagery, and by storing the map files on a physical CD, the materials were clearly of a "concrete" and "permanent form." At the time, these criteria were crucial in assessing copyright infringement claims.

Among legal scholars, the case was significant because it expanded the power of copyright in digital media.

Online misinformation

In the time since the 1998 appellate court ruling, several false rumors about the Nuke It series have been circulated online. Because these rumors are often found in online resale ads, it is possible these rumors may have been started by players who were concerned about the resale value of their copies. In particular, it is often incorrectly claimed that Micro Star later acquired a license from 3D Realms to publish authorized versions of the expansion pack. In reality, all Nuke It products were published in 1996, prior to the 1998 legal injunction against them. However, numerous websites continue to list incorrect publication dates of 1997 or 1998 as a result of these false rumors.

The publication dates of each of the Nuke It expansions can be easily checked against the files on their CD-ROMs, which retain creation dates from when they were first loaded onto the CDs by Micro Star. These dates match the dates provided by Micro Star themselves in the "REVISION.TXT" files and in the CD-ROM cases (see here and here), but note that, because Micro Star downloaded their user maps from the Internet, a small handful of the user maps are fraudulently dated to the 1970s, 1980s, the period from 1990-1996 before the publication of Duke Nukem 3D, and even one dated to January 1, 1997.

The screenshots below show the true dates, which match those from statements by Micro Star:

Gallery

Censored packaging

The following images show how the Nuke It product packaging was changed as a result of the September 30, 1996 district court ruling.

Original

Censored

Censored screenshots

The following screenshots were provided for use as desktop wallpapers in Nuke It v2.0 but were censored from later versions.

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