IContact 20140910

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The following message went out to our iContact list on 2014-09-10:

Word List Developments

NASPA Acquires Zyzzyva and Inks Merriam-Webster Licensing Deal

Dear NASPA Members,

In an ongoing effort to serve our members, NASPA has acquired the word study program Zyzzyva from Michael Thelen. The arrangement came about due to new requirements by Hasbro and Merriam-Webster requiring licensing in order to make use of electronic copies of the OSPD5 and OTCWL2014 word lists.

Additionally, after several months of negotiations, we are pleased to announce that NASPA and Merriam-Webster have signed a licensing agreement to permit NASPA members to use Hasbro's OSPD5 and OTCWL2014 word lists with the Zyzzyva program for word adjudication and study purposes.

The OTCWL2014 word list, which was prepared jointly by NASPA's Dictionary Committee and Merriam-Webster's editorial staff under license from Hasbro, is the intellectual property of Hasbro, and subject to U.S. copyright law as a document which was created as the result of a lot of human judgement, not mechanically reproducible. Although we had a large part in its creation, it doesn't belong to us, and we need a license to use it for our competitive activities. Because we have good business relationships both with Merriam-Webster and with Hasbro, we were able in the end to negotiate a reasonable license, which also covers the School SCRABBLE lexicon OSPD5.

This license arrangement requires a significant investment of both time and capital for the organization. But we considered this a vital expenditure to ensure that our membership continues to have access to important tools for word study and adjudication.

The arrangement relieves Michael Thelen of liability for any failure to comply with the new requirements for the operation of the program. He has graciously agreed to help with coding improvements to the software, as he is able to do so. NASPA will take the lead in terms of overseeing further development of the software, legal compliance, and working with Merriam-Webster and Hasbro to ensure a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship.

We now need to make some software changes in Zyzzyva (the desktop and mobile apps) in order to comply with data security requirements in our license. We are hoping to get these implemented very soon, and will make further announcements when we have a clear timeline for their implementation.

Chris Cree
John Chew
Dallas Johnson