Where can you license crossword puzzles for republication?
November 20, 2013 3:40 AM   Subscribe

A friend has built a crossword app and wants to find some content for it.

It's the kind with no clues, rather you're given the words in an unordered list and you have to arrange them on the board. So all he really needs is some (let's say 100 to start) completed existing puzzles.

I assume such a completed puzzle without clues is still subject to copyright, so he can't just buy a book of crosswords and scan them in, right? But how can he go about buying them in such a small quantity? Or is there some open source wikimedia type library of them?
posted by pete_22 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about he focuses on building a solid word bank, and then make an algorithm do the heavy lifting? Stack overflow has some suggestions.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:16 AM on November 20, 2013

Agreed - if it isn't a crossword that requires clues, it may well be cheaper to populate the puzzles using a restricted dictionary and an algorithm.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:23 AM on November 20, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah he's tried auto-generating them but isn't happy with the initial results. I think he just wants something quick to get some feedback on the app before he spends a lot more time on a word bank or algorithm.
posted by pete_22 at 5:39 AM on November 20, 2013

I know, for example, that Kate Mepham, formerly the crosswords editor at the Daily Telegraph, has her own crosswords supply company called Crosswords Ltd.

She also supplies TMS Licensing for syndication, I think.

I'm sure they could supply 100 crosswords for a fee. The NY Times also makes their crosswords available, and I doubt for megabucks.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2013

There are a bunch of crossword apps that are free and yet provide newspaper puzzles. I don't know what the legality of that is; he could get in touch with the authors or the relevant newspapers and ask. Shortyz is one such (android) app and I think it's open source.

This is also purely hypothetical but there must be some crossword-creation communities online with volunteers sufficiently passionate to donate some puzzles for an interesting cause.
posted by trig at 6:56 AM on November 20, 2013

I'm not sure I'd be so fast to assume that arrangements of letters into a grid meets the creativity requirements for copyright. This isn't something I've done research on, so law may be well settled against this, but there is a threshold for copyright protection. Recipes, for example, often don't meet it. Might be worth seeing if you can get a free/cheap consultation from an IP attorney.
posted by toomuchpete at 8:04 AM on November 20, 2013

If he is fine with using newly-generated crosswords but just doesn't want to spend time creating a dictionary and algorithm, he should check out Crossword Compiler. It is an outstanding piece of software. Even if it doesn't meet these particular needs of his, everyone who is halfway interested in creating puzzles should have this program.
posted by painquale at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he's serious about it, hit me up (email or memail). I'm friends with the former AV Club crossword editor who just put out a book on crossword history and has done licensing deals for a few folks.
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on November 20, 2013

« Older What to do about my expensive family wireless plan...   |   Busted oxygen sensor on my car: safe to drive? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.