For me, Facebook has really only been about three things.
- Getting back in touch with people that I’d not seen in ages.
- Getting to know people that little bit better than than distance would normally allow.
- Playing Scrabulous1.
Now, Scrabulous is a blatant rip off of Scrabble, which has been causing litigation in not-at-all-litigation-obsessed America. So much so that Facebook was obliged to block it in the US & Canada.
In the US and Canada. So why, then, am I unable to play it now? Why do I get the message:
The page you requested was not found.
You may have clicked an expired link or mistyped the address. Some web addresses are case sensitive.
* Return home
* Go back to the previous page
any time I click on any of my Scrabulous related bookmarks?
This does not bode well…
1 – That tournament seemed to die. Largely because of my group, it would appear. Sorry about that…
UPDATE: Disregard, it’s back. Move along, nothing to see here…
It disappeared for me for a few hours last night but then came back again.
If I had to guess I’d say that originally the takedown was based on people’s Network being in the US or Canada, but then someone realised that wouldn’t be accurate enough, and would encourage people just to switch network to get around it, so they’re now having to do something much more complex. But that’s only a guess, likely with no basis in reality.
Just like all the press articles who actually believe there’s such a thing as “Intellectual Property” law and lazily refuse to investigate just what Scrabulous are meant to be infringing upon here. You can’t copyright a game, per se, the patents on Scrabble have all expired, and the whilst it’s certainly possible that “Scrabulous” might be classed as infringing on the trademark of Scrabble, that fight was already lost for all the -opoly clones. It seems to me that this is just a blatant use of the DMCA. File a lawsuit that’s almost certainly going to lose, but spread enough FUD around that people don’t realise that and then use the fact that you’ve filed the action to demand a takedown. Grrrr.
Hooray for it coming back, frankly…
As for the game, it is clearly a rip off, but I hadn’t considered if it was a rip off of patent or copyright. That’s what I get for not paying attention…
I missed this at the time, but it seems that courts agreed that the only infringement was with the name, not with the game itself:
I’d quite like to find the actual ruling, as I suspect it went into things quite deeply.
I’m not quite sure why they still haven’t resurrected the game though (with both WordScraper and Lexulous still being different from Scrabble): I can only assume that either Facebook don’t recognise a ruling from an Indian court as being relevant enough for them to reinstate it, or there was some sort of side-deal that “persuaded” them to leave the original game to Hasbro/Mattel.
It wouldn’t be like FB to do a deal in the background that didn’t exactly meet the demands of their client base, would it?