Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A victory for intellectual property

I am often critical of "my generation" and its habit of entitlement - specifically, thinking that everything belongs to them.

From the Boston Globe:

NEW YORK - Facebook Inc., owner of the biggest US social-networking site, said the developers of Scrabulous stopped offering the word game in the United States and Canada after a lawsuit by Hasbro Inc., the maker of Scrabble.

Facebook members who try to access the application receive a message that says the game, which has 509,505 users a day, is disabled until further notice.

Users have started more than a dozen groups urging Facebook to keep offering Scrabulous. The largest had more than 45,000 members as of yesterday.

Scrabulous is no exception. Intellectual property is just that - property. People don't have the right to steal the ideas of others, even if they acknowledge the theft, and most especially, they don't have the right to profit off of those ideas.

Scrabble the game is a concept - and the Scrabulous creators sold ads and made money off their wildly popular app - but it was not their intellectual property to use. (In the interests of not covering up hypocrisy - I played Scrabulous. )

I'm glad Scrabulous is shut down, and even more glad that there is a legal version available. We buy knockoff purses, download movies and music for free, and accuse the people who create them of being corporate sellouts. But nothing is truly free, and our desire to always get something for nothing is an appalling characteristic.


At 11:14 p.m., Blogger Dani B. said...

You're just happy because I beat you!

At 11:56 p.m., Anonymous Mark said...

Check out the book - Group Genius. One of the core arguments in the book is that ideas are often not exclusive property. Scrabble was an example used to illustrate the point and was a "handmade" game shared around before it was claimed and commercialized by a company.

In general, I agree with the concept of copyright, but things are sometimes more complex than it may first appear. Scrabble is not a good example of company R&D generating a product.


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