Hasbro’s Scrabble vs Scrabulous
I was a very big fan of Scrabulous and although it is slightly off-topic for this blog, I couldn’t help but post my thoughts on this debacle. On the message board for the official Scrabble Facebook application, I responded to a question from another user. Here are the contents of that topic:
I don’t understand why Scrabulous was removed?
Why were they not allowed to keep the app running until proven in a court that they are in copyright violation and THEN removed?
Please shed some light on this for me.
What country do you think you live in, sir?
Haha, no, no you have it all wrong. This is not the United States of America anymore, where freedom and justice are values we uphold. This is the shut up and do what we say territory. Fascism, it is said, should more appropriately be called “Corporatism”. Free market capitalism in a Republic where the people took an active role in their government would not have allowed such corporations to exist, especially if we kept control of the issuance of currency in the hands of the government (people) rather than private banks (yes, the supreme court has stated that the federal reserve that prints your money is a private corporation).
“[The Great Depression] was a carefully contrived occurrence,” said Congressman Louis T McFadden. These same people are in control of the banks and corporations today, and have everyone of importance bought and paid for, Republican and Democrat alike, and thus they can shut down whomever they want, even though it is clearly not a violation of copyright law. I am sure the developers of Scrabulous will be convicted in court, even though it is a clear cut case that this is not copyright infringement. In fact, it could equally be argued that if Scrabulous infringed on Hasbro’s intellectual property, Hasbro has also infringed on Scrabulous’ intellectual property. It has stolen many elements directly from Scrabulous (and done a much poorer job of implementing them).
This is all about jealousy. They’re jealous that with all their resources they couldn’t make an app any sooner than this. Then they had the audacity to screw all the fans of their game, who even though they weren’t playing Hasbro’s platform online had purchased thousands of board games from the store, These developers brought thousands of new customers to Hasbro without charging them a single dime. They ran a brilliant viral marketing campaign, the first of it’s prominence, and made Hasbro thousands of dollars.
Then because of sheer greed and jealousy, Hasbro stabs its customers in the back and not only halts all their games midstream with no hope of recovery, but has a replacement app that can’t even be used. Once it’s fixed, you cannot find the people you’ve played games with before, and you never had a chance to add them as a friend before Scrabulous was shut down, so too bad for you. Searching for public games is broken. It’s slow. It reports people as online who are not. Challenge mode is still not available. (What I would consider intellectual property copyright violation against Scrabulous by Hasbro).
The reason this isn’t even copyright violation is that it is too general an idea to copyright. For instance, Scrabulous could say that they came up with the idea of putting board games on Facebook, so Hasbro’s Official Scrabble application is a violation of their “board-game-on-facebook” copyright. But then the first person who ever created a facebook application could claim “Facebook application” copyright. You can’t copyright the rules of football. The NFL can’t sue your local high school for copyright violation, even though they are making money off the rules of the game. They can’t use the NFL logo or any of the copyrighted team names and logos, but they can freely play the game without worry of lawsuit.
In the same manner, you cannot copyright the rules of a board game. You can copyright the exact design, but not the rules of the game itself. If this were not the case, you would not see all of the Monopoly rip-offs (not special editions, but local editions or football team editions and the like). They would be sued. But they change the names of everything and use a different design, so it is not a violation of copyright. Scrabulous uses a different design for their board. Although the layout is the same, the design itself is different. And although it has the same basic rules, it does not use any copyrighted images, designs, or names from Hasbro.
This is a lawsuit motivated by jealousy and this company should be ashamed. But if these people are in these positions to make these kind of decisions, they normally have no problem being complete scum.
I think Scrabulous fans will agree with me: Scrabulous was fabulous and the official app is complete crap.
A great alternative to using Hasbro’s app is to abandon the idea of Scrabble and go with something new and exciting. A dynamic crosswords game from the developers of Scrabulous comes the next best (maybe better?) thing, Wordscraper. And the interest which will certainly be shown in this alternative game (with changing rules, so Hasbro, keep your hands off) will ensure continued developments and improvements. Congratulations to these guys for another great application.