Solving the Zynga problem

Even with internal dicta such as “Steal someone else’s game. Change its name", Zynga will be a slippery target in court. At The Kernel, George Osborn sees Electronic Art's copyright lawsuit as a red herring that hides both the real victim and a better solution: The fraternal, collaborative, highly sociable culture of indie gaming—ruthlessly exploited by Zynga, yet capable of forcing it to change.


  1. Although their rivals had done nothing outright illegal, by changing the code slightly and repackaging it they successfully screwed Vlambeer out of cash it deserved.

    As I understand it, reusing the same code is illegal.  Unless the license permits such a thing, of course.  What’s perfectly legal is writing your own code that does the same thing as your rival’s.

    This is an important distinction – it’s kind of like saying that you’re not allowed to photocopy someone else’s painting and sell it as your own…but if you want to make your own painting that looks the same, then go for it.  I think that’s a reasonable standard to have, because if you’re going to put in that much work to create something, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll want it to be an exact copy of something that already exists.

    In fact, the only reason to put so much effort into replicating something that already exists is that you have a privileged position within the market.  Basically if your marketing weight allows you to profit more by re-selling a stale idea rather than coming up with a fresh one, then of course that’s what you’ll do.  That’s not a copyright or creativity problem though, that’s a capitalism problem.

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