Questions about music copyright

Myself and @DevBuckette have been working on a club game. As a result of this, we’ve been uploading a lot of music to ensure that the game has a lot of good options for music rather than the somewhat limited options a lot of current club games have.

I have a few questions here.

There have been a few times where I’ve uploaded music from copyright free sources channels such as this Youtube Channel and the songs would get removed for copyright. Would there be any consequences for my account, devex or game if I kept uploading (unintentional) copyrighted music?

Secondly, I’ve secured permission from an artist called Unlike Pluto to use some of their songs for free for commercial use, but I know that if I uploaded these songs, they would get removed, so I was wondering if there was a way to go around this or have the music uploaded with this information?

Lastly, are remixes of copyrighted popular songs (such as nightcore remixes) free for use? What’s the regulation around that?

Thanks!

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Yes, if you get too many copyright strikes it can lead to an account termination, for Roblox’s safety.

I believe if you go message the moderation review team with your legal documents, such as a contract from the owner of these songs then you can get the moderation action reversed.

No. these remixes are actually copyright violations of the original song. But nightcore music usually aren’t copyrighted, however you will have to ask the channel owner if they got permission from the original artist to make the nightcore version. If they didn’t have permission, you would technically be using illegal work even if you didn’t know and you would risk getting a copyright strike.

Edit: Regarding your DevEx question, here is what the regulations are:

The following will make you ineligible for a Cash Out: scamming, phishing, false advertising, attempting to exchange Robux for real currency other than through DevEx, any illegal or unethical activities.

Doing any of those actions makes you illegible for DevEx, and I’m not sure if copyright strikes count as “illegal or unethical activities”, but it might. Normally it only takes 1 wrong move and you will be illegible for DevEx, so better watch out. I have a friend that uploaded a “robux giveaway” decal since he was planning to do a robux giveaway, and he got a warning and became illegible for DevEx.

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What about the case where you have to credit the source of the music author in the description/credit section, in order for it to be free for commercial use? These have links that aren’t supported on Roblox and could risk us getting in trouble for that. What would we do in this case?

image

Youtube links are supported by Roblox, but not soundcloud links. You will have to negotiate with the owner to see if they can make it so you don’t have to post the soundcloud links. Perhaps tell him that you are using it on Roblox and provide him with this official article from Roblox that says that soundcloud links are not allowed.

It states that:

"The only links you are allowed to post on Roblox are roblox.com links, youtube.com links, twitter.com links, and twitch.tv links. No other links are allowed. Posting any other links will result in further moderation actions."

Adding on to that, you will still have to contact the moderation review request team to get the moderation actions reversed.

So you’re saying there’s no good way to avoid moderation actions from being taken in the first place? We both know that moderation can be very vague.

Judging from his last reply, I’m assuming he didn’t put the credits the first time he uploaded them though, which in that case he would have to put the credits in the description and then contact the moderation team to get it reversed. Putting the credits after your asset is moderated doesn’t get it to automatically reverse which is why I said “Adding on to that, you will still have to contact the moderation review request team to get the moderation actions reversed.”

P.S - I’m talking about this specific upload, not his future uploads. Once he gets this one right he should be able to upload them without copyright strikes in the future.

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Obligatory IANAL. Obligatory I am not staff, nor an agent representing Roblox. Obligatory these are all me speaking from my own person and of my own current standing knowledge and research.


Foreword: are you sure that channel is even representative of NCS? I’d encourage you to access NoCopyrightSounds directly rather than another channel that isn’t endorsed by them. The official NCS channel does not display that account as one of its other operated channels. You could be receiving secondhand or otherwise inaccurate information.


Right, so here’s the thing people often don’t catch with NCS: you actually aren’t free to use them in games. I guess the assumption comes from the channel name. If you refer to their Usage Policy, they have a specific header about the use of their releases in games. Games, regardless of their nature, are labelled as commercial use and require a license to be signed between you and NCS. Excerpt:

Can I use NCS music in my independent video game?

Regardless of whether your game is free to download, use of our releases in video games is considered to be a commercial use. A Commercial License Agreement will need to be signed between NCS and Game Developer / Publisher.

It’s important to assess the usage scenario of audio from a publishing label. If you aren’t able to find this information immediately, it’d be best to find a source of contact. I’ve made a more detailed post regarding NCS tracks in another thread regarding non-copyrighted tracks (not NCS), but due to a misunderstanding, I happened to cover NCS usage in games. Check that out here.

Here's a collection of all announcements regarding music copyright and DMCA action. These can serve as information resources if you need to understand the circumstances regarding punishment on copyright.

So yes. If you are uploading NCS tracks for use in games without that signed license and a copyright claim does get raised against your game, you will start accumulating strikes leading up to a termination. Copyright claims affect your ability to use the Developer Exchange program assuming use of unlicensed tracks falls under Section 3(F) of the DevEx Terms of Use:

Community member in good standing and at all times during your use of the Services strictly complied with the General Terms (including the Rules of Conduct and the Ongoing Service Requirements for Developers, set out in item 4 below). In our sole discretion, we may choose to waive any of your minor moderation infractions. But, by way of example, the following will make you ineligible for a Cash Out: scamming, phishing, false advertising, attempting to exchange Robux for real currency other than through DevEx, any illegal or unethical activities.

DevEx Terms of Use. Accessed 05 August 2020.

With the assumption that the information I’ve accessed remains accurate, you may email devrelations@roblox.com with the subject of “Licensed Music” and provide details about a track you’ve either created or signed a licensing deal with that was removed due to automatic flagging or other moderation actions. If you sign a license deal with NCS, upload the track and it gets flagged, then just send an email with the details to get the moderation countermanded. I am banking on two pieces of information remaining up-to-date as my sources.

If you have created or licensed music specifically for Roblox and you are concerned about it being removed as part of our automated process or it has been removed, then please email us at devrelations@roblox.com with the subject “Licensed Music” and provide as much detail as possible about the affected music.

Upcoming Music Changes and Copyright Related Action. Accessed 05 August 2020.

If you have personally obtained licenses for music in your game, please email devrelations@roblox.com with information about which songs were affected and the details of your license agreement.

Music Copyright Flagging is Live Today. Accessed 05 August 2020.

Regarding your secured permission with Unlike Pluto: you may want to also follow up with them regarding Roblox’s own rules about IP content. Roblox implicitly and automatically retains a license to use the content that you upload to the site (so like a sublicense to another entity by right of you uploading to Roblox). You may need to check with Unlike Pluto that they are alright with this. Refer to Roblox’s Terms of Service, Section 6B(3)b for further information. I’ll provide a relevant excerpt, but you may want to read the rest as well.

… in consideration of using the Service and the potential to earn Robux as discussed in the Robux section, you grant us a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free right and license (with the right to sublicense to any person or entity, whether a user of the Service or not) to host, store, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform (including by means of digital audio transmissions and on a through-to-the-audience basis), reproduce (including in timed synchronization to visual images), modify, create derivative works of, distribute, and use in any way the UGC that you Provide, in whole or in part, including modifications and derivative works, in any media or formats (tangible or intangible) and through any media, items or channels (online, offline, or others, now known or hereafter developed), including for publicity and marketing purposes (except that you are not granting us any license to make new or derivative video games using your UGC).

Roblox Terms of Use. Accessed 05 August 2020.

If you upload Unlike Pluto’s songs and they get claimed, refer to the above text regarding disputing the flag by emailing DevRelations with the details of the license/permission you hold for the action to be countermanded. Just be wary about the existence of this text in Roblox’s ToS.

Regarding remixes: I don’t know much about that. Remixes are a derivative transformation of the original work and I would assume that they also need to be in compliance with the license. I don’t know how things work when you want to use a derivative work of an original, so you may want to look up a bit on that or wait for an answer from someone more qualified to answer.


That’s all I know on the matter. Feel free to ask questions or correct what I’ve mentioned if it was wrong. I’m definitely not the best person to ask about copyright but I guess I do know a thing or two about how the whole spiel goes when it comes to Roblox.

PS: Do not go to Moderation Review Requests to dispute a deleted asset on the grounds of a copyright takedown strike, they don’t have the ability to handle it. You will be redirected to DevRelations to resolve the matter first and if follow up from them is required, they will act accordingly (in private).

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Thank you for your helpful and informative comment, and for alerting me of something that may have been dangerous down the road.

In regards to Unlike Pluto, I believe that it is a dead end with this new information, considering he only said we could use them in a private conversation, and not in a legal document. Whilst that may mean he’s open to the idea, it’s not something I’m willing to look into yet.

How would I potentially secure a license permission with NCS? I’ll be emailing them tomorrow but it’d be good to have a little insight into the matter beforehand.

Furthermore, could you recommend some methods to obtain club music that follow Roblox’s terms of service and would be possible at an affordable rate?

Finally, what should I do in the case that contact fails with NCS? My friend has already uploaded some of their songs with the intention of being used in the game, so I’m wondering what the appropriate steps would be to ensure that myself or my friend don’t get banned or copyright striked (they haven’t been striked, just some songs didn’t upload due to copyright).

Thanks again.

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NCS has a form that you can fill out in its Usage Policy. This can be found either on the resources sidebar or in the section on use of NCS releases in games. There’s a few questions that you’ll have to fill out and I assume your eligibility or any further follow up will be established after that.

I’ve never filed a license request with NCS myself, so I’m not sure what to expect after the first page of the form let alone filling it out in its entirety.

In the case of following Roblox’s Terms of Service, that’s just business as usual. You should just be aware of their (near-)unlimited, implicit license to the content that you’ve made and will make on the platform and their ability to sublicense which may contradict another licensing agreement (such as one between you and another entity which doesn’t include the ability to sublicense).

I don’t quite know any methods about obtaining club music that would be suitable for Roblox. Nowadays I’ve become more accustomed to using APM tracks, things I find on the toolbox, explicitly copyright and royalty free tracks (CC0) or commission agreements. That’s also something else that another person would better be suited for answering, I don’t know much myself.

If contact with NCS falls through, then it can’t be helped. You can email ipcontent_removal_request@roblox.com to request for the removal of potentially infringing content that you’ve uploaded. More information about this is available in the last two links in the dropdown where I supplied all announcements related to copyright.

(Just be wary that response times could take colossally long. I haven’t checked for any updates so far, but requests I’ve sent last year have yet to receive response. Couldn’t tell you if their response time has improved now or not, I haven’t used it recently.)

One thing I’m not clear about is if sending an email clears you of punishment. Since as far as I know removing infringing content doesn’t absolve you of liability, the same could be applicable on Roblox with retroactive moderation. I’ve yet to hear any case of this happening though, so probably likewise nothing to be afraid of either. I’ve also had some infringing content sent in and removed without earning a strike or any moderation actions.

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Thank you, we’ll look into the form on the NCS website and figure out some methods to get music that’s licensed properly.

It’s a good thing that Roblox partnered with Monstercat - I just hope they add even more music soon so I can equip the club game with a wide selection of quality music.

I have one final question. I’ve seen a lot of music on the Roblox platform that probably shouldn’t be there, and it makes sense that there is probably a lot of music on the platform that isn’t moderated correctly. Would my game be banned for using some of these songs even though myself, nor my friends uploaded it? Would it potentially warrant a copyright strike - even if say, some of them were uploaded years ago?

Couldn’t say for sure, since moderation happens on a case-by-case basis so I can’t trust that every case is the same. Moderation is also vague on how they deal with this kind of case.

From what I do know, the more likely course of action is that the actual sound asset will be deleted and the uploader will receive moderation action, not the people using it. For those using it, the SoundId will instead by replaced by a track from the APM library.

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I’m curious though; What do you think is the reason that games such as Club Iris, despite everything that was discussed here, is allowed to thrive and has no action taken against it? I have no ill will towards the developers of Iris, of course, I am simply curious.

Roblox doesn’t police content. Without an active notice in place for certain IP, they don’t make a negative assumption about your access to content and assume you’ve sorted out the licensing. Copyrighted content that stays up is typically a result of the copyright holder not pursuing active action against the use of their content or because the uploader has a valid license.

That’s the best kind of answer I can give here. The copyright dealings of Club Iris are between its developers and any entities they may be using content from. Roblox will not mediate legal disputes, only act on requested action with proper documents.

Forgot that there’s also an article on the Developer Hub about copyright which notes the above:
https://developer.roblox.com/en-us/articles/Copyright-Guidance

So: why would Club Iris be allowed to stay up? I wouldn’t know. Sorry.

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