When the creators of a popular Facebook Scrabble knockoff disregarded notices from Hasbro, the game's US copyright holders, they eventually were hit with a lawsuit demanding that the game be taken down. Clearly upset over Hasbro's move, hackers attacked the officially sanctioned Scrabble game on Facebook, but now the imitation version is back to test the boundaries of the board game maker's copyright.
Scrabulous was taken down this week (reportedly by its creators and not Facebook), but yesterday, hackers attacked the official Scrabble version and took it down for most of the day, frustrating Scrabulous refugees. There's no word on whether the hackers were just upset users or a hit squad, but the Scrabble knockoff has now risen from the ashes (via Pulse 2.0) as Wordscraper, a Scrabble clone that could be just different enough to avoid Hasbro's wrath… maybe.
At its peak, Scrabulous had over 500,000 daily active users on Facebook. Official versions launched for US, Canada and international users a few weeks ago before Hasbro's lawsuit, and their combined active user count has risen to about 77,500 at publication.
Already, Wordscraper has over 3,500 daily active users, and its creators have been careful not to repeat their previous mistakes like linking Wikipedia's definition of Scrabble in their documentation. The defining aspect of Scrabulous' Wordscraper's return, however, is that it contains a new minigame and utilizes a slightly different design and color pattern that no longer directly rips off Scrabble's classic presentation.
Hasbro's copyright for Scrabble covers only implementations of the game, not the general concept of lining up letters to form words and scoring points based on the letters used and where they are on the board. Wordscraper's seemingly minimal changes may be just enough to keep it from stepping on Scrabble's toes. Considering its previously massive user base, the creators could once again enjoy steady revenues if Wordscraper can crawl its way anywhere near to what Scrabulous enjoyed.
With the official Scrabble versions now appearing at the top of a Facebook search, though, Hasbro probably won't have to lose much sleep over Wordscraper.