back to article Feds charge two men with claiming ownership of others' songs to steal YouTube royalty payments

The US Attorney's Office of Arizona on Wednesday announced the indictment of two men on charges that they defrauded musicians and associated companies by claiming more than $20m in royalty payments for songs played on YouTube. The 30-count indictment against Jose Teran, 36, of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Webster Batista, 38, of …

  1. Dr.Flay

    We know how much money they made but,

    Only one question stands out for me

    During this time how much money did YT make from the songs ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We know how much money they made but,

      Yobtube only exists by distributing content they never bother to vet or editorialize, 230 is open season for this scam. Yobtube is full to the brim with stolen IP clipped, obfuscated, had minor pitch changes, mirror images, and any number of other tricks to get stolen IP past Yobtubes pathetically weak automated system. It is only going to get worse as long as 230 stands.

      1. TechnicalVault

        And thus has innovated in ways the legacy content industry never could

        The legacy content industry is too tied up in petty IP conflicts and repetitive formulas to thrive and innovate. Look what has happened to the History Channel, now all about how aliens built the pyramids and then sank Atlantis.

        This is where YouTube (and TikTok) has thrived, where else can you find:

        - blokes repairing Apollo AGCs

        - teaching you how to build log cabins

        - numerous makeup tutorials

        - guitar and magic lessons

        - wilderness shows that aren’t OH NOES a beer every 5 minutes

        They filled a hole they aren’t going away:

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: And thus has innovated in ways the legacy content industry never could

          YouTube is the go to source for copyrighted video and audio material and has a monopoly, minor players with legal content have no option but to put their content there, and accept what ad revenue Google sees fit today.

          While the US supports tech monopolies and ignores the fact that its hard for them to police themselves, precisely because of their scale, there is no hope for any alternative.

          They filled the whole, they aren't going away.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

    If they keep the 20m that’s not a bad deal.

    1. Toe Knee

      Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

      Looks like it's $250k for *each* count. They're still in the black with a four count indictment, though.

      Can't say I wouldn't be ok with that math!

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

        New Zealand has proceeds of crime recuperation laws. There their entire suite of assets, their bank accounts etc would be seized and either forfeit to the Crown or go to recompense the victims.

        Wide application. Get caught illegal fishing? Your boat even if a multi million $ trawler is forfeit along with your entire catch. Many companies buy their boats back.

        If you are personally fishing in fresh water and you put your rod down with the line in the water, your boat and all your fishing gear can be forfeit. You can’t hand it to someone without a fishing license either. I remember a case prosecuted where that happened in front of a fisheries officer.

        People are always taking too many or too small paua (NZ abalone) and again if caught all their dive gear, their boat can be seized.

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

          So essentially the authorities have questionable methods and unfair fines? I don't want the criminals not to pay, but these fines seem unreasonable to me.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

          Good job there arent tax havens or places like London who will launder it for you for a small fee.

      2. Geez Money

        Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

        It's a thirty count indictment. Still technically in the money even after taxes, but not by nearly as much and how much of that money is left? Then there's the hefty prison time to go with it. I don't think I'd be good with it.

    2. RM Myers Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: 20m, 5 years stir, 250k fine

      This is from the United States Department of Justice website (https://www.justice.gov/criminal-vns/restitution-process)

      "In federal court, a convicted offender may be ordered to reimburse victims for financial losses incurred due to the offender's crime. This reimbursement is called "restitution," and it may be ordered for lost income, property damage, counseling, medical expenses, funeral costs or other financial costs directly related to the crime."

      This restitution to the legitimate copyright owners would be in addition to the $250K fines per offense.

  3. steviebuk Silver badge

    Throw the book at the cocks

    But also YouTube should be somehow fined. I know thats my anger talking as you wouldn't fine Ford if one of their cars was used in a crime. But still. I still feel YouTube is part of the problem because they don't want to deal with this shit and have obviously worked out it makes more business sense for them to err on the side of the claimant. This then means, as we see here, any old joe can claim bullshit claims and get away with it (first time I've ever heard of anyone getting caught and arrested for it. Appears to be a rare case. I assume they pissed off some big YouTubers or corporate accounts. Which only then makes YouTube take action). Mainly because they know people won't fight it as they either can't afford the legal fees or its not worth spending out fighting it.

    My example, which I've bored everyone with before was from last year. On my channel I'd uploaded a video of me showing the security issues on a parking enforcement website. All because the company had no email address for you to email. The video had no music just me showing the flaw. It was up for about a year till randomly last year one of the directors at the company falsely claimed it so I got a strike and it was removed. At that point I finally was given an email address. Email explaining the issue & reason for video. Was ignored.

    Then disputed the strike with my valid reasons, YouTube said wasn't enough. What? All my own work recorded on my fucking PC, browsing their website but YouTube still held their CLEARLY false claim. Anyone reviewing it would fucking see its false. So even if I wanted to take it to court that it warned me could happen, YouTube ignored the disputes and the parking company never sent futher legal papers, so I had to wait months for the strike to end and be removed from my account by defauly. Clearly someone had just told them "Do a false claim. It benefits YouTube to just side with the claimant and the video will be removed".

    Arseholes. I ended up doing a blog post about the issue in the end. About the parking companies lies and YouTube's shit claim system. Then reuploaded the video to LBRY/Odyssey instead where it remains.

    For anyone interested its Parksheild Collections of Parkshield Group. The company that filed the false claim and who still hasn't bothered to fix the whole issues with their site.

    They try to make out with the text on their site that it was secure and had a GDPR policy in place before my video was uploaded because of the date they put on their policy page. But that WASN'T there when I uploaded my video. This, unfortunately, isn't in my video, however the brilliant web archive (people should donate to that if they can) shows the archive of their site on the date they claim their policy was updated and before my video went up. And sure enough it shows the info they claim was there, wasn't.

    Arseholes.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Throw the book at the cocks

      Without disputing the validity of your claim (and yes I know YouTube's automated 'side with the claimant' system is utter bollocks and damaging to content creators, not to mention Parkshield being Neanderthal toerags), did you show screenshots of their website and/or code on your video? If yes then I've heard of that being a reason to lose copyright ownership.

      1. ricegf

        Re: Throw the book at the cocks

        In the USA, critical analysis is an affirmative defense against copyright infringement claims. The OP is permitted to show a reasonable number of website screenshots for the purpose of demonstrating the validity of his assertions. Not that YouTube would care about the law or justice, of course.

  4. 96percentchimp

    YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

    I've been involved at both ends of YouTube's copyright enforcement. It's effective for creatives, who frequently see their work stolen. You can pay someone to trawl for copies of your work and file for takedown.

    But automated content ID systems will fail, and the appeals process is too heavily biased in favour of copyright owners, with harsh penalties if your surreal is rejected. I'm surprised it hasn't been challenged in court somewhere.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

      From the report it seems to be biased in favour of alleged copyright owners. What seems to be missing, both by YouTube and AR, whoever they might be, is an effective means of de determining actual copyright holders.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

        You are talking about a company based in America, where their patent office will merrily grant you a patent on eating food with your mouth.

        They take your money and stamp a date on your bonkers mad idea, that's the full extent of the effort they put in. Jeeez - the post office could do that at a fraction of the cost.

        So it's no surprise, that a nation that has allowed the bar to be set so low, that other companies will gladly follow suit and risk nothing in the game, while still expecting a slice of the winnings.

        All problems get sorted out in court, if you have the money- which in itself is testament to how inequality has been the making of that great nation.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

          Patents are not even remotely similar to copyright.

          1. nijam Silver badge

            Re: YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

            > Patents are not even remotely similar to copyright.

            There are a few differences, but very many similiarities.

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: YouTube copyright enforcement: extra judicial and surely illegal?

              Patents protect methods, copyright protects words. Two very different things.

              Copyright lasts for ages, patents expire in a reasonable timeframe.

              Patents (and patent applications) are published in a searchable database. Copyright isn't published in anything, not even Google.

              Most saliently, the point the GGP was so exercised about: patents are submitted, reviewed and granted at the whim of a central office. There is absolutely no such process for copyright.

              If it weren't for the fact that they get grouped together under the misleading term "intellectual property", nobody would even suggest they're similar.

  5. trindflo
    WTF?

    A lot of time

    Thirty-Seven years potentially? I have no sympathy for them. I'm just surprised there is that much jail time for what is a property offense and where the property is a lot more frivolous than some pensioner's cat food allowance. I'd prefer to see sentences like that handed out for life and safety issues, or at least for crimes that have ruined people's lives rather than to serve as a warning to any who might mess with the ruling class. I guess I see how we danced our way there: wire fraud sponsors terrorism, so off to the gulag for transmitting a song. Those penalties are way out of balance.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A lot of time

      Maximum sentences and actual sentences are two different things. However the actual property concerned is the $20m proceeds of the fraud. If that's more frivolous than the pensioner's cat food allowance I don't want ot go anywhere near the cat.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: A lot of time

        The cat that owns this human is reading this article, and then looking at me, and reading this, and looking at me, and reading this, and...

        How do I explain that I don't have twenty million to spend on cat food? I don't have a fraction of that, period.

        Cat... is still carefully reading this. Oh crap.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: A lot of time

          You have a problem.

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    So, greed got the better of them, as usual.

    It does make me wonder how much else of this is going on by less greedy people. Running the same scam on the same victim for 3-4 years is never going to end well. Might they have got away with it if they'd stopped after $10m, closed up shop and "disappeared". They could then have re-invested a bit in setting up something similar under new names, new songs etc., and probably had another round of $10m income. Or just stopped at that and lived comfortably on the first lot of proceeds.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: So, greed got the better of them, as usual.

      It's always the same thing

      "According to the USAO of Arizona, Teran and Batista used the $20m they obtained to acquire real estate, jewelry, and luxury cars"

      The modern tapping trappings of socially flauntable greed and wealth. Window dressing and phoney slight of hand distractions to other similarly morally empty worshippers at the altar of money.

  7. RAMChYLD

    Now Japan needs to do the same

    I streamed some JRPGs and the company who produced the RPG has a open policy where all their music is precleared so you may stream their game without fear. They're also self-published so there is no possibility of confusion. And yet I got a strike for one of the songs used in their games, attributed to a certain Bicycle Corp. I disputed and got snubbed, youtube would rather protect this Bicycle Corp than their streamers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mickey Mouse Trial

    In their defense, the accused said they were just copying Disney's business model

  9. juice Silver badge

    I think I know a musician who was affected by this[*]; the key problem has always been that a lot of the affected musicians aren't in the USA, and individually, few of them could justify the cost of mounting an international legal challenge.

    The last time they mentioned it, I got the impression that some sort of group had been set up to properly challenge Teran and Batista, which makes me wonder if that's how the US Feds finally got involved!

    [*] Long-time rock artist, who had several decades worth of recordings on YT, from which all the revenues were going to T&B

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