Roblox user Aqualotl uses my composition Creepy Music Box as a soundtrack in one of his works. Every year, as a Halloween event for the past ten years. Without notice and, to my knowledge, without attribution. This is illegal and unethical. We contacted each other and settled the situation: the music will remain in Roblox, but now with an indication of authorship and source. Happy end.
Long story so far
In the process of migrating my music between distributors DistroKid and CDBaby in early 2023, I have been checking the status of songs in the venues daily. I needed to make sure the songs weren’t missing, duplicated, and had changed providers as seamlessly as possible for listeners. But during the next check I discovered what a lot of comments under Creepy Music Box song video on my YouTube artist affiliate channel hinted at: its use in Roblox.
Today I stumbled upon this video and noticed its title and description. Oh no:
Hallowsville into my search, I was shocked. Thousands of videos. Millions of views. And, unfortunately, I’m sure most of them feature the that-is-composition that is attributed to the creator of the event. Since no other authorship is given at all.
It would seem that nothing unusual: another media has simply been copied and reused. This happens everywhere with pictures, text, and so on. I am not an exception to that, but at least I try to follow the licensing conditions and Fair Use. I originally meant that my music can be freely copied, distributed, and modified under the terms of CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 . I love the internet, I want to contribute to it. All I ask in return is that you keep the music free of monetization and credit. Which Aqualotl hasn’t done, as far as I can tell.
It’s not a matter of statistics. It’s a matter of perception. When your personal experiences, framed as a song to convey experiences to the world, are used as just another background music for a children’s scary story, something deep down in you breaks. Maybe the fact that the title contains “Creepy” already sets you on the wrong wavelength, which I can agree with. But the music isn’t just the title.
It’s not what I wanted. The fact that it’s not being used in TikTok the way I expect it to be used – unpleasant and a little disappointing in humanity. But I have no right to force people to act differently. Besides, the platform itself indicates the authorship of the song by default, which suits me minimally.
In Roblox, it’s reputation, it’s importance, has been deformed over the last decade. This has led to the fact that listeners have been misled and now firmly associate the song with a game I haven’t even played. That’s why people wrote to me about it. That’s why they thanked me for something I had no part in. And it was just the dozens of lucky people who thought about finding the source, found my video, and left a comment. How many people walked away at each of these stages? How many people basically didn’t think about the fact that the song playing in the virtual sandbox was actually imported from somewhere?
Creepy Music Box was written at a time when I was going through my parents’ divorce. My grandfather was undergoing surgery with great risks of complications. For six months I didn’t attend my senior year of high school. It was a terrible time that I struggled to get through. After playing Ib shortly after graduation, I wrote this music, mixing my experiences and impressions of the game. After only two years of living within bandcamp it will be reused as the soundtrack in a sandbox about collecting candy and no one but a handful of people and me today will know it.
When I’m single-handedly trying to get my music to at least a hundred people, players and YouTube authors gather millions of views and hundreds of thousands of viewers. And none of them will know that “that song I listened to for hours when I was a kid” was written by a refugee from the war in Russia. Lonely in a foreign country, needing grains of attention more than ever. Just to keep from going crazy, as he did then, twelve years ago.
I sent an email to the administrators of Roblox to get the context of the use of my composition and, if possible, to contact Aqualotl, the author of Hallowsville, directly to resolve the conflict. At best, after years of hopelessly missing the attention of millions of listeners, the damn lines:
will be added to the metadata or interface, or something. Otherwise the administration will simply delete and block the song for use in the game, which I would not like to admit. I want the music to live and spread, not blocked and disappear from the Internet space. Unfortunately, sending an email explaining this to the platform and posting this is the best I can do in this situation.
I hope I have made this whole situation clear to you.
I intervened in the comments on the reuploaded song to clarify the situation and got the Aqualotl contact in Twitter from the channel’s author . I haven’t used this social network in recent years in favor of Mastodon . But to solve the problem I can briefly compromise my principles.
Logged in and, for some reason at the request of the site, reconnected two-factor authentication, I opened my profile and wrote a tweet with a mention:
There is no guarantee of results, but it is better than nothing.
I woke up this evening, as I had once again hopelessly disrupted my daily routine, and checked my email. There was a letter from Aqualotl in it:
Thank God, this is not a conspiracy, not misleading, but simple stupidity, which is common to all of us. I, too, was foolish not to rush to check exactly what the comments were about two years ago so that I could decide sooner.
After checking the references in the letter, I made sure that the authorship and source were indicated. That’s enough and that’s all I wanted in the first place. I wrote back and promised to update this post and explicitly withdraw the DMCA application towards Roblox as resolved:
The rest are minor details. It seems to be Happy End.