Wordle’s code could be copied to play for seven years

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The code that powers the website of the viral puzzle game Wordle can be copied and saved to continue playing for the next seven years, it has been revealed.

The finding comes amid concerns that the game’s sale to the New York Times could mean it’s no longer free to play. The code, written in Javascript, appears as plain text to those who know how to access it.

Some publications have even printed a step-by-step guide on how to do it. Effectively, you can maintain a version of the game as it exists today with enough data to go on for a long time,” said Professor Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey.

But he added Because you have the words stored locally, it can be tempting to cheat, and where’s the fun in that

He added that it would not be “too difficult” to separate the grid of questions from the answers. You would have to save the data to a file that is inaccessible except for the game. In essence, it splits the data file from the words of the functionality that you see when you play the game. That might seem like a lot of effort for a daily word game that challenges users to find a five-letter word in six tries, with clues along the way. But having gone from a handful of players to millions in just a few months, some may be willing to give it a try.

Creator Josh Wardle recently sold his game to the New York Times for a seven-figure sum. He had originally said that he did not want to make money from the game he created as a distraction for him and his partner during lockdown.

And copying the code can carry a legal risk. Nick Allan, legal director of law firm Lewis Silkin, told the BBC: “The particular expression of software code that underlies a game like Wordle will be protected as a copyrighted work of literature under copyright law. of the UK,” he said.

It is not possible to waive the UK copyright, and the copyright provided on the Wordle website is obviously not licensed to the general public on a free and perpetual open source basis. Unless Mr. Wardle has provided this kind of general license to the public, it is likely that he or the New York Times still retains the right to enforce copyright as they see fit. That means anyone replicating it or creating a cloned game could be liable for copyright infringement, at least in the UK courts.