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New York Times issues DMCA takedown notices against Wordle clones (nearly 2,000 of them)

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The New York Times (NYT) is taking a firm stance against the proliferation of Wordle clones. The newspaper giant, which acquired the original Wordle game in 2022, has initiated a wave of legal actions, sparking concerns among game creators.


The NYT’s legal offensive targets numerous clones of the popular word puzzle game. The primary target of the latest DMCA notice was Chase Wackerfuss, the creator of a Wordle clone called "Reactle". The DMCA notice argues that these spinoffs, despite potential variations, are created in “bad faith” and allegedly copy the gameplay exactly from the Reactle repository.


The legal notices claim ownership over not just the Wordle name, but also the copyrighted gameplay, pointing specifically to the distinctive 5x6 tile layout and the grey, yellow, and green color scheme. The impact of the legal offensive extends beyond Reactle itself, affecting approximately 1,900 games that have been spawned from its code on GitHub.


This move by the NYT has ignited a copyright battle with GitHub developers, and the fate of hundreds of games inspired by the web-based sensation now hangs in the balance. The Times has clarified its stance, stating that it has no issue with individuals creating similar word games that do not infringe The Times’s ‘Wordle’ trademarks or copyrighted gameplay.


As the dust settles on this legal battlefield, one question remains: How will this action by the New York Times shape the future of game development and intellectual property rights? We invite you to share your thoughts on this matter.



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Top image: FPCreativeStock | Dreamstime.com

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