news & Things

Wordle Code Good To Play For Seven Years, If Copied

07th Feb 2022

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

 

Millions of users worldwide have expressed concern that, following the New York Times’ acquisition of the game, it may stop being free-to-play.

The code, written in JavaScript, is tucked away in plain text for those who know how to access it.

There have even been step-by-step instructions published on how to access the code.

 

“Effectively you can keep a version of the game as it exists today with enough data to keep you going for a long time,”

Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

 

However, Professor Alan Woodward goes on to add:

“As you have the words stored locally it might be tempting to cheat, and where’s the fun in that?”

Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

 

With that being said, he added that it wouldn’t be “too difficult” to split the question grid from the answers.

 

“You’d need to hold the data in a file that was inaccessible other than to the game. In essence split the data file of words from the functionality you see when playing.”

Prof Alan Woodward, Computer Scientist from University of Surrey.

 

To the average person, this may sound like an awful lot of effort for a daily word puzzle game but having risen from a handful of players to millions in just a few months, something about the game means some will be willing to try.

 

Josh Wardle, the creator of the trending word game, recently sold it to the New York Times for a seven-figure sum. Originally, he did not want to make money from the game as he created it as a distraction for himself and his partner during lockdown.

But, be aware, copying the code may carry a legal risk.

 

“The particular expression of the software code underlying a game like Wordle will be protected as a literary copyright work under UK copyright law,”

“It is not possible to waive UK copyright, and the copyright provided on the Wordle website is not obviously licensed to the general public on a free, perpetual open-source basis.

 

“Unless Mr Wardle has provided this type of general licence to the public, he or the New York Times are likely to still retain the right to enforce the copyright as they see fit.”

Nick Allan, Legal Director At Lewis Silkin

 

So, at least in the eyes of UK courts, anyone replicating or cloning the game could be liable for copyright infringement.

Mr Allan added, to give a glimmer of hope here, that it might be possible to create a game using different lines of code to achieve the same result.

 

“Either way this is a complex area, fraught with legal risk for anyone thinking of using this code to release their own Wordle.”

Prof Alan Woodward

 

It is highly likely that the website will undergo a major revamp once the New York Times takes charge.

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