Music publisher sues Roblox for allowing game creators to use unlicensed songs

A group of music publishers representing Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and the Rolling Stones hit songwriters are suing

Roblox Co., Ltd.

Allegedly the video game company used the music without permission or payment for copyright infringement.

Publishers, including Universal Music Publishing and artist DJ Deadmau5, say they lost their income because many of their creators weren’t licensed for the music they used in the game. A proceeding filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday seeks damages of at least $ 200 million.Plaintiffs from other publishers include Big Machine Records, Concord Music Group, Downtown Music Publishing, Kobalt Music Group, and

Hipgnosis Songs Fund..

In the proceedings, Roblox, which has 42.1 million users per day as of March, gives users the option to insert a virtual music player or boombox into the games they create on the platform and send out copyrighted music. Claims to sell. Boomboxes purchased by hundreds of thousands of users play songs recorded by artists such as Deadmau5 and Imagine Dragons.

“Roblox actively preys on their impressive user base and their desire for popular music, teaching children that pirated music is fully accepted,” the complaint said.

Roblox said Thursday that it would not tolerate piracy and would respond to a valid request to remove content that violates federal copyright law. However, the company said, “I was surprised and disappointed with the proceeding, which represents a fundamental misunderstanding about how the Roblox platform works.”

The proceedings are the latest in a series of discussions and controversies between music rights holders and businesses.

Peloton Interactive Co., Ltd.

Byte Dance Ltd.With TikTok

snap Of a corporation

Snapchat about their or their users using music with the content that exists on their services.In some cases, companies, especially

Facebook Co., Ltd.

We have agreed to enter into a wide range of license agreements with music labels and publishers to cover the music used by consumers. Peloton and the publisher settled the proceedings early last year and signed a license agreement to use the publisher’s songs in the future.

The “One World: Together at Home” charity concert was screened within the Roblox platform in April 2020.


Emi Leaf Lin / EPA / Shutterstock

While licensing issues can sometimes be controversial and even litigation, music labels and publishers are new through their adaptability to revenue beyond streaming on services such as social media, video games, Spotify and Apple Music. I am widely excited to find a partner. This pandemic has accelerated the growth of home fitness apps and gaming and streaming companies that have relied on music as an attraction to live steam or on-demand classes, in-game experiences, and game live streams.

Roblox, which operates a free online platform with millions of games created by its own users, is one of the fastest growing companies in interactive entertainment. When it went public and went public in March, it became a hot stock and as of Wednesday it had a market capitalization of about $ 52 billion, which was greater than the market capitalization of the Madden NFL maker.

Electronic Arts Co., Ltd.

And Grand Theft Auto Maker

Take-Two Interactive Software Co., Ltd.

In recent years, video game companies have been working with artists to host original virtual performances in-game to increase engagement and in some cases attract millions of attendees. Roblox features concerts by artists such as rapper Lil Nas X and the bands Why Don’t We and Royal Blood. Epic Games Inc.’s “Fortnite” did the same thing as DJ Marshmello, rapper Travis Scott and more. However, events are not the same as when users create their own content, insert copyrighted recordings without permission, or download boomboxes.

Roblox warned investors in a securities report prior to its public debut that there could be problems in this area. “As we face intensifying competition and become more well-known, we are more likely to claim intellectual property rights and other claims against us,” the company said in a filing. “Our technology may not be able to withstand third party claims about its use. In addition, many companies exercise their intellectual property rights and may file claims against them. Has the ability to invest significantly more resources to defend against. “

At the National Association of Music Publishers’ Annual Meeting on Wednesday, CEO David Israeli said Roblox “mainly seduced and manipulated children” in pirated music.

“They took advantage of young people’s lack of understanding of copyright and earned hundreds of millions of dollars by demanding payment from users every time they uploaded music to the platform. We rarely take steps to prevent or warn users. The risks they take, “he said.

Roblox said he is working on a partnership with the music industry “to unleash new, creative and commercial opportunities for artists and songwriters.”

The NMPA, which helped organize the proceedings, Of a corporation

Livestreaming service Twitch.

Video game company Roblox does not rely on budgets like Hollywood to produce games, but mostly outsources development to young players. The WSJ meets gamers who make money from his work and help listed companies attract new players. Photo: Roblox

Twitch is popular with gamers who stream their videos playing music in the background. Rightsholders and services have made no significant progress in discussing licensing to use music in user-generated content, and the NMPA will ask Twitch to remove streams containing infringing works. He said he intends to be more proactive by asking.

A Twitch spokeswoman said he continued to work with labels and publishers to avoid future removal notices.

Last year, Twitch began urging users to make sure they were compliant when playing copyrighted music while broadcasting on the platform. The company said at the time, representatives of major record labels sent users thousands of notifications requesting that illegal content be removed from archived streams.

Write to In Anne Steele And Sara E. Needleman

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Music publisher sues Roblox for allowing game creators to use unlicensed songs

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