First of all, a reading list BEFORE you tackle this post:
This should give you at least a little bit of background as to what has been going on, if your experience on this site as a regular or as a mod hasn't already (or, if you are uninitiated to what exactly the problem is).
From here on out, I am going to tackle a few misconceptions about what Newgrounds as a site is.
1. MYTH: Newgrounds will not exist without Geometry Dash
As EDM364 said, Newgrounds was responsible for the viral Numa Numa meme. You know, the guy with the dancing arms on his chair? We also brought TheWeebl, Edd Gould's stuff, Sexual Lobster, Egoraptor, James Lee and Hania Zdunek, and games like Alien Hominid, Cathode Raybots, Castle Crashers, Meat Boy. To say nothing about the rest of us users who are consistently bringing forth new content to keep it fresh.
Newgrounds is not solely about the audio. In fact, the primary function of Newgrounds has been to house animations and video games. Art and audio came later, if you recall your Newgrounds history.
2. MYTH: Newgrounds only exists to serve the needs of Geometry Dash
@TomFulp created this site as an oasis for game devs, animators, artists, musicians and writers and anyone else who wanted to be a part of this odd, quirky and close-knit community. He has been fighting this battle for 21 years and counting. (Yes, that is how long this site has been here for.)
A lot of us see it as a springboard to get onto something better. @Dimrain47 now has a AAA job, and @Jazza is now getting the funding and support from patrons (among others) to make his artistic dream a career, and a demanding but fulfilling one. @Bosa had his music used in the Rio Olympics 2016 screenings. @matt-likes-swords started off with poor animation but worked hard here, and is now producing one of the best indie RPG series of all time, Epic Battle Fantasy. You may not hear about these things, but these are everyday greats that come out of Newgrounds. There is no other platform that does these things, and has its users so close-knit together.
As for us musicians, we too see the springboard effect happening. Many of us have gotten our first gig as a video game composer from Newgrounds (myself included). And I'm not just talking about Geometry Dash either. I'm talking about those countless other games that wound up on Steam, the Game Jams and Ludum Dares, the competitions we hold.
Because of the fruits it has been producing, we of course need to go through upheavals and prune it every so often, protect this site should anything happen to it.
3. MYTH: Newgrounds music is copyright-free.
On Newgrounds, we use the Creative Commons licence, which is a form of intellectual property right similar to copyright. Therefore, rules apply when honouring the licence -- if not, your stuff can be DMCAed similar to when a copyright holder does it. Several Newgrounds users including @Envy and @Back-From-Purgatory successfully DMCAed their songs on YouTube, Soundcloud and iTunes just citing the Creative Commons licence, back when we had that prolific audio thief whose initials I shall only spell out as DH.
So what exactly does the CC licence entail? Well, there are two types:
- Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike
- Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works
There are also variations of that licence removing the "noncommercial" bit at the centre for people who allow their tracks to be used in paid games and stuff, but that is rare. Most of us have the Noncommercial bit slapped on to our licence.
On each audio track, you can find the CC licence on the bottom left that tells whether the work can be used or not. It's a small bit of text, but an important bit of text nonetheless that tells you that person's intentions when sharing the track.
4. MYTH: Royalty free music means completely free of charge music.
This, as we know, is complete nonsense. Audiojungle sells royalty-free music. Just because something is royalty free, doesn't mean it is completely free.
I had people condemning me for putting up that petition on the basis that we shouldn't be asking for funds for our music, since it's royalty free.
This brings me back to the CC licence above: a lot of the tracks will say, you cannot use this track without making specific arrangements with the artist. A "specific arrangement" does not mean a carte blanche to use a track in Geometry Dash without permission -- which, unfortunately, is what most people think it is. A specific arrangement would involve you actually asking the permission of all involved. The same applies to RobTop as well. A track unknowingly entered into Geometry Dash is a track which unknowingly breaks the law at times. And on top of that, thinking that no artist should be given any recompense for these pieces of music is bad enough as it is.
5. MYTH: RobTop spent a year or so on his game and you musicians only spent 2-3 weeks on your pieces at most, therefore he should be getting all the funding and not you.
There goes the old adage of treating musicians like shit again. No, seriously, this thing did indeed get brought up.
Music is what makes the game, and without it, the game might as well be a bland piece of crap not worth selling. By that same logic, the musician deserves his just wages.
6. MYTH: Dimrain47, Waterflame, Xtrullor, and RealFaction got popular because of Geometry Dash, and nothing else.
This, of course, is a complete and utter load of bollocks. They were popular long before Geometry Dash even came into the scene. I will grant you that Geometry Dash did give them a lift in the number of fans at times.
But to attribute their popularity, and by extension, the site's popularity, solely and only to Geometry Dash, is false.
Personal anecdote: Nearly every year there is a high-profile audio contest here called the Newgrounds Audio Deathmatch (NGADM for short). I say 'high-profile,' because the whole site watches it pretty much. It's quite ruthless, the competition. Anyway...
In the 2012 NGADM I met @Waterflame in the semi-finals. The first thing I told myself to do was to steel my nerves and not be fazed by his popularity and his fans. We talked, and we even became net friends. Of course, owing to his hard-earned fans, there were a lot more responses on his track.
Yes, because (gasp!) Waterflame was popular and had fans even back then. This concept somehow seems foreign to a good number of people who commented on my last newspost.
I'm not saying this out of spite -- I'm just saying this for purposes of illustration. Back then, none of us musicians had it cheap. Yes, certain games gave more fans than others. That's often the way it goes. But with the exception of a few isolated cases, everyone was fairly respectful actually. I mean, I look at, for example, @Phyrnna with her fanbase, part of which came from Epic Battle Fantasy because she scores the games, but she has also earned praise for her solo work. And bar a few, her fans have been a very respectful bunch.
While there are level-headed Geometry Dash users around, which we are all grateful for, the problem is when you've got the really toxic ones, turning the game into a box of nails as someone else put it, attributing the site's popularity solely and only to the game, and therefore doing with it, and its musicians, as they please, trampling on them and treating them like crap.
This is not so. Newgrounds may have its dark and edgy and sometimes even 18+ bits and pieces, and the General forum can sometimes be a cesspool, but otherwise, we're built on respect. The same with its musicians. We would be more than happy to respect you -- just treat us the same.
7. MYTH: Troisnyx, RealFaction and EDM364, among others, want Geometry Dash removed forever.
I will give you that there are indeed some of us regulars who are sick of how a big portion of the GD community has treated us on NG, and take it as grounds for the complete removal of the game. But many of us simply wanted change. We were fed up of being taken for a ride.
I cannot speak for @RealFaction and @EDM364 (and my other fellow mods @NekoMika and @Mich), but I can speak for myself, and here is my stance on the state of affairs:
For one, that petition brought to light a lot of issues happening as a result of the influx of disobedient GD users. The garden variety GD users actually helped our Audio Cleanup Thread, flagging songs as they went. Examples I can think of right off the top of my head are @GDHexhammer and @BlueAlpha14. But even they, too, were sick of the state of affairs. As were a lot of us regulars, who saw these things happening day by day.
That the game got removed from Steam as a result of copyright flagging by RealFaction set off a spark, which was long believed to be as a result of that petition I wrote on change.org. But if anything, it also brought to light just how important cooperation with all of us was needed, which we on NG found was severely lacking for three years. Seriously, three years of contacting RobTop and no joy, and not one of us knew the upper echelons were already at it working at hotfixes for the game, until after the petition was written. There must have been a communication error somewhere.
It set off a strong message, that we musicians weren't gonna be taken for a ride by people who either didn't know, didn't want to know, or didn't care about intellectual property rights. (I mean, allowances can be made for those who legit didn't know, but those are few and far between among the bad apples.)
I remember when @Zhenmuron started the thread for Geometry Dash back in 2013 on the Audio Forum. I remember how thrilled we were with the initial idea. And let that be the spirit of the agreement with which NG and RobTop decided to collaborate:
The music would be used by GD users, to give NG musicians time in the spotlight which they previously did not have. People would ask for permission for use, and there would be a respectful air all around.
But instead, from day one of its release, many of its users who did wind up here on Newgrounds did not honour that. We were treated as a weaker partner in this agreement, with many people bullying me saying "OH GEOMETRY DASH IS A BIGGER COMMUNITY THAN YOURS SO YOU'RE GONNA GET FUCKED IF YOU STAND UP FOR YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS." I had several hateful messages along those lines. And I'm probably not the only one who got them.
Is that the way to honour RobTop's intentions? Come on, I think not.
Ideally, if the game remains but with an overhauled permissions system for musicians here on NG (and within the game's coding), I would not mind giving this another chance. I also welcome reconciliation between the GD community and the NG community, and for us to understand the culture behind those two. However: if none of this is accorded properly, and push really comes to shove, then and only then, will I campaign for the game's total removal. I probably am not able to do it just now, but I think that the petition can be voided soon, if it means that progress is happening.