Roblox wins $ 200 million plus lawsuit by music publishers alleging unauthorized use of songs

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The National Music Publishers’ Association has filed a lawsuit against Roblox, accusing the massively multiplayer online games company of illegally using songs by numerous artists – and asking for a minimum of $ 200 million in damages.

Songs that are used in Roblox’s online game without the company paying the authors or copyright holders include those recorded by Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, deadmau5, Ed Sheeran and the Rolling Stones, among other artists, according to NMPA.

Roblox did not respond to a request for comment. [UPDATE, 6/10: Roblox issued a statement Thursday morning, saying in part that it would defend itself “vigorously as we work to achieve a fair resolution” with the music publishers.]

The company, founded in 2004, went public earlier this year and currently has a market capitalization of nearly $ 52 billion. Roblox’s stock price has risen around 31% since its IPO in March.

NMPA Chairman / CEO David Israelite announced the lawsuit against Roblox at the business group’s annual meeting in 2021. He cited Roblox’s massive user base of over 42 million daily active players and commented on alleged that Roblox went to great lengths to avoid paying music creators.

Roblox has made “hundreds of millions of dollars by forcing users to pay every time they download music to the platform – taking advantage of young people’s lack of understanding of copyright – and then they don’t. take virtually no action to prevent repeat violations or alert users to the risks they are taking, ”Israelite said in his comments at the meeting.

The NMPA lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiff publishers including ABKCO Music & Records, Big Machine Records, Concord Music Group with Pulse Music Group, deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman), Downtown Music Publishing, Hipgnosis, Kobalt Music Group , MPL Music Publishing, Peermusic, Reservoir Media Management, Spirit Music Group and UMPG.

The lawsuit seeks pecuniary damages “for the shameless exploitation of music by Roblox without proper licenses,” according to a statement from the NMPA. The lawsuit “will ensure that songwriters are paid fully for their works on the platform and that Roblox takes its obligations to those who have made its service so popular and profitable” seriously.

Meanwhile, Israelite also called up Amazon’s live streaming service Twitch, alleging that Twitch continues to not license music. He said NMPA is stepping up its copyright removal campaign against Twitch and will continue to remove music the business group claims Amazon refuses to pay for.

An “intensive application program to identify and remove unlicensed songs from [Twitch]”” Is already underway and will be increased, said Israelite in his speech.

Also as part of the reunion, Taylor Swift delivered a gracious speech upon accepting the organization’s Songwriter Icon Award (read it in full here). Representative Jerry Nadler (DN.Y.) also received the NMPA President’s Award for his commitment to promoting legislation that promotes fairness for songwriters; Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, with the NMPA Industry Legacy Award for her efforts to modernize and expand the genre and for supporting songwriters; and Peermusic Executive Chairman Ralph Peer II received a surprise tribute for his 50 years of service on the NMPA Board of Directors.

Digging through the annual figures, Israelite announced that the total music publishing industry revenue for 2020 was $ 4,076,829,040, an increase of 9.6% from 2019. He explained, “It’s important to understand the impact COVID had that year. Even though the world felt the effects of COVID in March 2020, due to the delayed nature of much of the revenue streams for the publishing industry, there was a subsequent impact on the industry, but it also means that it will continue later in [2021] as we continue to get out of this problem. He also detailed the breakdown of income categories as follows: performance, 51.5%; synchronization, 23.4%; mechanical, 20.2%; and others, 4.9%. “Mechanics has increased again to 20.2% despite the fact that certain categories of mechanics are shrinking rapidly. It is because of the growth of the mechanical part of interactive streaming that the category has grown overall, ”he added.

Israelite summarized the findings from the recently published data. “Number one: the resilience of the publishing industry. Despite the impact of COVID, we had significant growth in 2020. And that is a testament to the strength not only of diversifying our revenue streams, but also of how songs behave even in a bad economy, ” said Israelite. “Lesson number two: the importance of digital streaming and new business models like home fitness, user-generated social media and games. He added, “Lesson number three: the value of songs. They might in fact be undervalued. There’s a lot of talk about whether buyers overpaid or not in recent catalog sales. What if they got a good deal?

He concluded by saying: “Despite our many challenges, the state of the music publishing industry is strong”.

Jem Aswad contributed to this article.


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