I was checking out the Womma Word blog, which frequently highlights some of my favorite marketing blogs, when I came across this post from Matt Dickman regarding the news that Scrabulous is in big trouble with Hasbro for copyright infringement.
"Dude, get the legal out of the room"..."Just talk to these guys"...it's all very lovely. Except for one thing. EVERYTHING about this game, from the tile placements, to the damn name, is taken from a great game that was invented by Hasbro.
I agree that Hasbro needs to work with these guys. Obviously they've stumbled across something relevant, and fun, and some might even say-- revolutionary. But the assertion that Hasbro should PAY these guys-- pay them after they've been taking ad money off of a game that is not really their own....well, that's just not fair. Sorry to be uncool, but it's not. What's right is right, even if Hasbro is the "corporate machine" and these Scrabulous guys are two awesome dudes in a basement somewhere.
You know, my husband and I play Scrabulous. He plays it more than I do. AND, when he plays (he may be furious that I am reporting this), he often goes to Scrabble.com to use the Scrabble dictionary. He MIGHT even occasionally type in his letters and get clues for certain word combinations. My point is not to reveal my husband as a Scrabble cheater. It's simply to show that the game has changed. It has changed, my friends. In the world of social networking, it is considered okay to consult your dictionary before making a move. And, therefore, in the world of online applications that are eerily similar to board games, it might be okay to not be sued for millions of dollars. And so, in a sense, yes, legal should leave the room. These Scrabulous dudes should NOT be sued by Hasbro, but Hasbro SHOULD be able to have the application, and hire the guys just like normal consultants. And they should be paid a fair rate. But they should NOT receive millions for figuring out how to play online Scrabble-- simply because they stole the game. Had they pitched this to Hasbro originally, as consultants, I feel certain they would have met with success. And, I am sorry to report to those of you who hate "the man", the application would have been just as successful. Because its a good application, dammit. And, because it connects people...which, at the end of the day, is what all of this hullabaloo is about.