The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) has filed a lawsuit against Roblox to let users upload music from Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, deadmau5 and other artists without paying license fees. The lawsuit seeks $200 million in damages and a court order that will make Roblox tackle piracy.
The NMPA filed suit yesterday on behalf of several major music publishers. It accuses Roblox – a hugely popular kid-centric platform for games and social experiences – with a shared library of copyrighted but unlicensed songs. The complaint alleges that Roblox “Actively hunts for the impressionable user base and their desire for popular music, teaching kids that piracy music is perfectly acceptable.”
Roblox provides a library of audio files, 3D models, and other resources for building experiences. Users upload these files themselves, but the NMPA claims Roblox “actively encourages” to add popular songs. It also notes that users pay to upload audio files using in-game currency. “Roblox allows a huge level of infringing material through its gates, turning a blind eye on purpose for the sake of profit,” it says.
Roblox responded to the complaint on her website. “We are surprised and disappointed by this lawsuit, which represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how the… Roblox platform works and will defend Roblox working hard to reach a fair solution,” the statement reads. It notes that Roblox partners with music labels for authorized events such as a Lil Nas X concert last year, and the company signed a license agreement with APM Music in 2018. “We don’t tolerate copyright infringement, so we use industry-leading, advanced filtering technology to detect and prohibit unauthorized recordings.”
As the complaint points out, search Roblox‘s library for exact names such as “Ed Sheeran” or “Ariana Grande” returns no results. But if you search for partial terms like “Sheeran” or “Ariana,” you’ll get tracks with popular songs from both artists. (Not all labels are correct – one file titled “Ed Sheeran – The Shape Of You” is actually a sound clip from The robbery, for instance.) “Roblox“The use of filtering technology is nothing more than an empty gesture to mask the long history of inciting, inciting and encouraging users, including children, to infringe on copyrighted music,” the lawsuit states.
Virtually all major web platforms clash with record labels at some point, and the disputes often end when the companies strike a deal. The NMPA and Google settled a similar lawsuit about YouTube copyright infringement in 2011, leading to the platform’s current royalty-sharing agreement. In addition to the news of this lawsuit, the NMPA announced a “major increase” in copyright removal notices against Twitch — pressuring parent company Amazon to extend a currently limited license agreement.