Developers and players alike have encountered a new, seemingly catastrophic issue just days after Roblox's well-received announcement regarding the price reduction of uploading audios to the platform. Starting on March 22, 2022, all user-created/uploaded audios will automatically be made private, including those that already exist on the platform. This announcement has led to strong discourse throughout the Roblox community, as many players find this change to be unnecessary, ignorant, and even greedy on Roblox's part.
In a since-deleted Roblox DevForum post, an unknown developer made a very brief statement that loosely summed up Roblox's timeline of changes. As captured by @Roblox_RTC on Twitter, this statement highlighted Roblox's plans to private all audio files that weren't uploaded by Roblox themself, remove all sources of audio from experiences that the audio owner didn't create, and remove the use of Song ID Codes from the platform entirely. As mentioned previously, this post caused an uproar on social media, leading to Roblox deleting the original post and replacing it with one that offered more details and answers to user questions.
The re-uploaded post, created by Roblox staff member MorganT, reiterates the statements made above and continues to delve into why Roblox is prioritizing them so highly. Though this isn't directly mentioned in any official Roblox statement, it's likely that the reason that Roblox is buckling down so hard on these audio issues is related to the multi-million dollar lawsuit that they faced in 2021, where over 10 music companies were suing them for copyright due to the millions of unlicensed songs that were being uploaded to the platform on a daily basis.
During this lawsuit, the president and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), David Israelite, characterized Roblox as an ignorant company, stating that "[Roblox has] made hundreds of millions of dollars by requiring users to pay every time they upload music onto the platform", and that they "take virtually no action to prevent repeat infringement or alert users to the risks they are taking".
Following the flood of criticism and scrutiny that Roblox faced during and after this lawsuit, staff members removed millions of copyrighted audios off of the platform. After this wipe, players were still left with millions of audios to work with and use inside of experiences—the sounds just needed to be licensed and/or protected by free use, so it didn't turn into a huge deal.
Now, however, only sounds created, uploaded, and/or approved by Roblox's licensing team will be able to be made public on the platform. This means that any Roblox experience that uses music, sound effects, ambient noise, etc., that wasn't directly created and uploaded by its developer will have all of its sound removed. This also means that Song ID Codes will become a thing of the past, instead being replaced by the Roblox official licensed catalog.
Many developers, content creators, and players have spoken out against this change, saying that it directly hurts smaller developers who can't afford to create their own music and sound effects, and continues to benefit the large experiences that already have the means to create whatever audios they need. Beyond this, some developers have even gone as far as stepping away from Roblox entirely, boycotting the platform and/or leaving their jobs and careers.
There are a handful of users, however, including Jailbreak creator @asimo3089, who view this change as a necessity—stating that uploading audio [that] you don't own the rights to couldn't last forever. Another user, @Reverse_Polarity, pointed out that this change creates new job for SFX creators, a role that is underutilized on Roblox.
Ultimately, regardless of whether it's viewed as good or bad, this decision will impact hundreds of thousands of experiences across Roblox, likely completing changing those that have been left to disappear with time, such as the fan-favorite Normal Elevator, which relies on hundreds of sound bites to create its eery atmosphere. The true results of this change won't be fathomable until it goes into full effect on March 22, however, so until then, enjoy the boombox gear while it's still active.
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