Monday, July 28, 2008


The Scrabulous/Scrabble thing really got me thinking about platforms and how they relate to intellectual property (IP). Scrabulous did Scrabble a huge service by providing the game on a new platform. It's unclear whether or not there would be a Scrabble on Facebook unless Scrabulous proved there is a demand for it.

This puts fan-developers in a tight spot. If they want to introduce a beloved game to a new platform, they have to deal with the corporate command-and-control legal machines that still dominate our info-wants-to-be-free world. Hasbro has made their position clear. They don't want anyone having fun with their property unless they are directly involved. At least that's a position. In most other cases you just have to guess whether the 'rightful owner' cares whether or not you release a game on a new platform, be it Facebook, the I Phone, or whatever cutting edge thing is coming down the virtual pike. If you're lucky, unhappy IP owners will just tell you to stop. If you're unlucky, they might sue.

The creation of great ideas has never been the hard part. See: inspiration vs perspiration. The hard part is turning those ideas into something of value to the world. The law should go further to protect people (and companies) who create that value, rather than protecting those who have great ideas but are unable or unwilling to share them in ways that provide the most value to the public.

There are a lot of pitfalls in my suggestion, but nothing we couldn't sort out with some work. Just an idea that alone will bring little value to the world.


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