NMPA Sues Roblox, Seeking at Least $200 Million in Damages

The National Music Publishers’ Association filed a lawsuit against Roblox, accusing the operator of the massively multiplayer online game of unauthorized use songs from numerous artists — and seeking a minimum of $200 million in damages.

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

Roblox did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company, founded in 2004, went public earlier this year and currently has a market capitalization of nearly $52 billion. Roblox stock price has increased about 31% since its IPO March IPO.

NMPA president/CEO David Israelite announced the lawsuit against Roblox at the trade group’s 2021 annual meeting. He cited Roblox’s massive user base of more than 42 million active daily players and alleged that Roblox has gone to great lengths to avoid paying music creators.

Roblox has earned “hundreds of millions of dollars by requiring users to pay every time they upload music onto the platform — taking advantage of young people’s lack of understanding about copyright — and then they take virtually no action to prevent repeat infringement or alert users to the risks they are taking,” Israelite said in his comments at the meeting.

NMPA’s lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of publisher plaintiffs 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 is seeking monetary damages “for Roblox’s unabashed exploitation of music without proper licenses,” according to an NMPA statement. The litigation “will ensure songwriters are fully paid for their works on the platform and that Roblox takes seriously its obligations to those who have made its service so popular and profitable.”

Meanwhile, Israelite also called out Amazon’s Twitch livestreaming service, alleging that Twitch continues to fail to license music. He said NMPA is stepping up its copyright-takedown campaign against Twitch and will continue removing music that the trade group alleges Amazon refuses to pay for.

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

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