Scrabulous access blocked for US and Canadian Facebook users

by billso on Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Rajat and Jayant Aggar­walla have blocked access to their Scrab­u­lous Face­book app for US and Cana­dian users, accord­ing to this NY Times arti­cle called Scrab­u­lous Barred to North Amer­i­can Users and anAs­so­ci­ated Press arti­cle called Pop­u­lar Scrab­ble knock­off sus­pended on Face­book. There are lots of blog posts avail­able, includ­ing my own billso.com post called Scrab­ble vs Scrab­u­lous, Mashable’s Actu­ally, Scrab­u­lous Shut Them­selves Down. Sort of., eFlux Media’s Scrab­u­lous is no more and Mar­ket­ing Shift’s Face­book Shut­ters Scrab­u­lous; Has­boro Smiles. (Note: the spelling error was made by Mar­ket­ing Shift, not me.)

The best game of Scrabble I ever played, courtesy of betsymartian on flickr

It sounds like Face­book asked the broth­ers to take this step, after mul­ti­ple requests from Hasbro.

Some Face­book users really need a les­son on copy­right as well. Scrab­u­lous may be fun, but the online groups that are defend­ing the game are dis­play­ing their igno­rance and con­tempt for intel­lec­tual prop­erty laws. It wouldn’t sur­prise me if many of Face­book Scrab­u­lous play­ers also down­loaded unli­censed movies, songs and books from peer-to-peer ser­vices. I dis­uc­ssed text­book down­load­ing on yesterday’s billso.com post called A tor­rent of text­books.

Per­haps some Scrab­u­lous users will actu­ally try to play Scrab­ble in real life, while Has­bro and Elec­tronic Arts try to get their licensed Face­book Scrab­ble app to run in a reli­able manner.

I’m a big fan of fair use and the Cre­ative Com­mons, but I really hope Has­bro and Mat­tel pur­sue their court cases. The broth­ers are sev­eral weak argu­ments in their defense, and have shown poor judg­ment by col­lect­ing adver­tis­ing rev­enue from their web site.  A set­tle­ment would set an ugly prece­dent, and encour­age more devel­op­ers to cre­ate unli­censed ver­sions of copy­righted works.

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