The National Music Publishers’ Association has sued the popular gaming platform Roblox for copyright infringement on behalf of several music publishers in a lawsuit seeking $200 million in damages.
The Association alleges that Roblox “actively encourages” its players to utilize music from artists like Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande and others without paying appropriate licensing fees.
“That Roblox’s platform has become a repository for sharing unlicensed commercial music is no accident,” according to the lawsuit. “Roblox actively encourages its users to upload and share popular music to make the games on its platform more appealing and attractive to its young audience, fully aware that it has not obtained the necessary permissions.”
Roblox, an online global gaming platform popular among young people, offers users in-game opportunities to manually upload audio files that the Association said is being utilized for pirating music. They accuse Roblox of preying on its “impressionable user base and their desire for popular music, teaching children that pirating music is perfectly acceptable.”
The lawsuit states that Roblox has hired more than a thousand human moderators to review each uploaded audio file into its system, and that searching for certain artist names in the game is prohibited. However, plaintiffs allege that Roblox has allowed loopholes to its process, saying that users can instead search song titles or partial terms, rather than artist names, to successfully upload copyrighted music.
“Roblox is aware of this wide practice, and has nonetheless conditioned its users to believe that making minor modifications to an audio file nullifies copyright protections,” the Association wrote.
The gaming company on Thursday said that they “do not tolerate copyright infringement” and were “surprised and disappointed by this lawsuit.” Roblox mentioned previous authorized partnerships with major labels and publishers like Lil Nas X and Zara Larsson.
“As a platform powered by a community of creators, we are passionate about protecting intellectual property rights — from independent artists and songwriters, to music labels and publishers — and require all Roblox community members to abide by our Community Rules,” the company said in a statement.