Roblox Hit With 200M+ USD Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
On June 9th, independent and major music publishers sued the video game platform, Roblox, for over $200 million in damages.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ABKCO Music & Records, Big Machine Records, Concord Music Group, deadmau5, Downtown Music Publishing, Hipgnosis, Kobalt Music Group, MPL Music Publishing, peermusic, Reservoir Media Management, Spirit Music Group, and Universal Music Publishing Group. Notable absences from this list are Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group. Both of these companies have direct financial ties to Roblox.
The plaintiffs are suing via the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). It is an American trade association whose mandate is to defend the interests of music publishers and songwriters in the matters of domestic and global music copyrights.
The lawsuit alleges that since going public in March on the New York Stock Exchange, Roblox has made hundreds of millions by putting music uploads on their platform behind a paywall. With two-thirds of the game’s player base being under 16, the lawsuit also alleges that the company took advantage of young players’ lack of knowledge about copyright by not warning the users about the risks and not cracking down on infringement.
The main issue the NMPA has with Roblox seems to be that their library contains thousands of unlicensed songs. Users can then incorporate these into their own games. As a result, Roblox allegedly uses songs by artists such as Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran. It does so without compensating the writers and copyright holders.
The Roblox Corporation responded on June 10th. They claimed their Community Rules protects intellectual property rights. They also claimed that they use advanced filtering technology to block any unauthorized recordings. Furthermore, the company said it takes valid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requests very seriously by removing infringing content that violates its rules.
According to the Roblox Corporation, the NMPA’s lawsuit originates from a fundamental misunderstanding of how it operates. In their eyes, the Safe Harbor rule applies in this case whereby a platform is shielded from legal responsibility if a user uploads copyrighted material subject to DMCA violations.
A Roblox Corporation spokesperson said that they were disappointed by the lawsuit. They touted the platform’s partnership with major artists such as Lil Nas X and Zara Larsson who are both under the Sony Music Group label. However, the NMPA disagrees, claiming that Roblox is attempting to hide behind a misinterpretation of the DMCA. They claim that simply announcing Community Rules would be insufficient to compensate artists for their music.
Is the NMPA justified in claiming that it is partaking in copyright infringement? Or is Roblox acting legally by the DMCA? Let us know below. Check out some of our other articles here.