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Community / Shaetlan version of Wordle to be taken down after legal threat

A split-screen image; on the left is the game wordle with several attempts made, and on the right is a github 404 error page.

A LOCAL version of Wordle is set to be no more after a legal threat from the company which owns the copyright for the popular game.

Wirdle, which is free to use, was set up by dialect group I Hear Dee in 2022 as a fun way to promote local Shaetlan language.

The original Wordle was developed by software engineer Josh Wardle, who ended up selling the game to the New York Times for an undisclosed seven-figure sum after it developed into a worldwide craze with millions logging on to play every day.

But it appears the New York Times has now taken issue with games inspired by Wordle which are created using open-source software.

It is not just the Shetland version affected though, as there have been many other off-shoots created around the world designed to promote local languages.

Linguistics expert Professor Dr Viveka Velupillai is part of I Hear Dee, and she said it was “utterly ridiculous”.

“Our code is not the same, the languages are all different, and nobody cashes in on anything,” she said.

“These are all small, community run non-monetised initiatives inspired by Wordle.”

Developer platform GitHub, which hosts the code used to build Wirdle, got in touch with I Hear Dee via email on Wednesday (6 March) saying it had received a “DMCA takedown notice” regarding the Wordle offshoot.

In the DCMA notice a representative says the New York Times’ “exclusive copyright” has been infringed by “knock-off copies” of Wordle.

GitHub advised I Hear Dee that it had one business day to edit its code repository to comply with the notice.

A spokesperson for the New York Times said in response: “The Times has no issue with individuals creating similar word games that do not infringe The Times’s “Wordle” trademarks or copyrighted gameplay.

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“The Times took action against a GitHub user and others who shared his code to defend its intellectual property rights in Wordle.

“The user created a “Wordle clone” project that instructed others how to create a knock-off version of The Times’s Wordle game featuring many of the same copyrighted elements.

“As a result, hundreds of websites began popping up with knock-off “Wordle” games that used The Times’s “Wordle” trademark and copyrighted gameplay without authorization or permission.

“GitHub provided the user with an opportunity to alter his code and remove references to Wordle, but he declined.”

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