Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Copyright Takedown Against Hundreds of Wordle Clones

Jason Koebler:

The New York Times has filed a series of copyright takedown requests against Wordle clones and variations in which it asserts not just ownership over the Wordle name but over the broad concepts and mechanics of the word game, which includes its “5x6 grid” and “green tiles to indicate correct guesses.”

The Times filed at least three DMCA takedown requests with coders who have made clones of Wordle on GitHub. These include two in January and, crucially, a new DMCA filed this week against Chase Wackerfuss, the coder of a repository called “Reactle,” which cloned Wordle in React JS (JavaScript).

Craig Grannell:

I find it curious that this is even possible, given that Wordle itself was a straight rip of Lingo, which itself was in part based on existing mechanics. Games build on other games. The NYT denying that stops others from having the success Wordle itself enjoys.

Nick Heer:

The Times’ two most recent ideas for games were blatantly ripped from “Only Connect” but, sure, some random people on GitHub are irrevocably diluting Wordle’s reputation.

Timothy Geigner:

For this discussion, you really do need to recall that Wordle began as a free to play, simple daily game that became a quick craze nationally. It was created by one person, Josh Wardle, who made absolutely clear at the time that he had no interest in wrapping anything like intellectual property around the game. And when others did create spinoffs or clones of the game, he handled it in roughly as congenial a manner possible.

But then he sold the game to the New York Times. And the Times promptly began to strongarm these spinoffs and clones into shutting down, wielding IP threats to do so.

Nick Lockwood:

A lot of folks replying to this with “you can’t copyright gameplay” and of course that is correct, in legal terms. But with IP (as with so much in our society) it doesn’t actually matter what the law says, it only matters how much money you have.

A free software author cannot defend themselves against a billion dollar corporation in court unless they are willing to risk ending up homeless on the street.


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