back to article Crook who stole $23m+ in YouTube song royalties gets five years behind bars

One of the two men who admitted stealing more than $23 million in royalty payments for songs played on YouTube has been sentenced to nearly six years behind bars for his role in what prosecutors called "one of the largest music-royalty frauds ever." Jose Teran, 38, of Scottsdale, Arizona, was sent down for 70 months by a US …

  1. david 12 Silver badge

    Lock him up!

    Because he intends to work in the music industry, and the incentive for fraud remains the same as the incentive for everybody else in the music industry.

    In fact, lock up everybody in the music industry who isn't rich, because the incentive for fraud is strong.

    In fact, lock up everybody who isn't rich, because they might commit crimes in the future.

    Or, alternatively, lock up prosecutors who write crap like that.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Lock him up!

      The man continued to perpetuate his scam even after being arrested and indicted.

      That and his statements about continuing to work in the music industry show he has no remorse and intends to continue scamming musicians, Google and the public in the future.

      The prosecutors are right.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greed is good

    When you own the rights.

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Greed is good

      It just might become a bit bloody to collect payments

    2. tmTM

      Re: Greed is good

      If they simply paid off the artists or bought the rights when people complained, they would have still been operating.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Greed is good


        Yeah, silly greed move on their part, by the sound of it there were plenty of non monetized music works out there, so when legit creators complained their rights were being infringed the sensible move would have not been to antagonise them but to cut some kind of deal and so keep under the radar: Especially when plenty of companies out there that trade in rights to music, the crim could have easily lied & said they in good faith purchased rights from some third party who claimed to be the rights holder. Shafting the legit music authors who noticed they were being shafted was bound to eventually be their downfall.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Greed is good

          What he was mostly doing was targeting channels run by musicians who were publishing their own work, and stealing the ad revenue off them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Greed is good

            Copyrighting a work in the US is cheap & easy. You do it yourself directly with the copyright office. Roughly $40. Artists should do it especially if they derive revenue from their work. I do. Then you have something the other guy has to respond to.

  3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

    US$20+M / 5 years ~= US$4+M per year. Prison is -- presumably (was he sentenced to a "white collar" prison?) -- a bad place to live, but that "salary" is a great one, although you can't spend it extravagantly, or you run the risk of the taxman coming after you for not having reported all your income, which probably will lead to fines and more jail time ...

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

      I'm not sure how it works with the US justice system, but in the UK the courts can seize your assets if they were deemed to be proceeds of crime. In fact the onus is on the defendant to prove any money, property etc are legitimately earned and not from criminal activity in such cases. Not for the court to to prove its from crimes. They can even seize it from 3rd parties such as friend and relatives if you give them ill gotten gains to try and keep it out of the hands of the authorities.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

        There's no mention in the story of any of it being clawed back or of how much was left to claw back after the obligatory "lavish lifestyle".

        1. PRR Bronze badge

          Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

          > There's no mention in the story of any of it being clawed back...

          That comes later? Read the Sentencing Memo referred in the story paragraph 4, see page 4 footnote 3.

          The government requests that the Court set a restitution hearing to determine an appropriate restitution amount. The PSR set restitution in the amount of $1,464,717.90. (PSR at 24–25). The government is actively working to obtain information from other victims, which is a substantial undertaking because the majority of victims reside outside of the United States. The government has recently expanded its notification efforts to include Spanish-language notifications and is further widening its public outreach. A future restitution hearing would afford sufficient time for additional victims involved in this case to come forward.

          It does seem like the suggested $1.4M is less than the $23M given in elReg's headline.

          FWIW: we just came across some published writing by my father we never knew about; that he has forgotten. If somebody is selling it, we would never have known.

        2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

          Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

          "There's no mention in the story of any of it being clawed back or of how much was left to claw back after the obligatory "lavish lifestyle"."

          That's why I only rent my lavish mansions to criminals I've introduced to crime, and only have a "criminal lair" rental business.

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

        As I understand it, cops in the US don't even need a conviction to steal and fence a suspect's assets.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: Ill-Gotten Payoffs vs Prison Time

          And thus, the varyingly-successful attempts by criminals to hide their ill-gotten gains. If the coppers can't find it, they can't take it away from you. Though, if they slap a fine on you and you don't/can't pay it, you may end up in the pokey for that. Telling the beak, "The swag was in crypto-coins, and someone nicked me (electronic) wallet!" probably would fly as poorly as, "But Ms. Prunewaller, the dog ate my homework!"

          American gangster Al Capone was not convicted of crimes of violence, but was convicted of tax evasion and he did jail time for that.

  4. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

    Why no jail time for Getty Images CEOs?

    And they keep doing it.

    1. hedgie

      Re: Why no jail time for Getty Images CEOs?

      Of course, they're not bound to the same laws us plebs are. The US legal system has two classes: those whom the law binds and does not protect, and those whom the law protects but does not bind.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "still has plans to remain in the music business"

    But you never were in the music business. You were in the fraud business, music was just the vehicle.

    And I won't be surprised to learn, in a bit more than 6 years from now, that you got caught for fraud again (music business or otherwise). Easy money is an addiction. Once you get a taste of it, that taste is acquired.

    Some people might be more predisposed than others.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "still has plans to remain in the music business"

      The entire music industry is one big scam. All of entertainment for that matter.

      This is not opinion, but documented fact for the last 100 years.

  6. PhilipN Silver badge


    Given the way managers, record companies, promoters, back street chancers and just about everybody else has been ripping off musicians since Mozart I am shocked that an online fraudster should receive jail time. He is a perfect fit for the industry.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Shocked!

      Perfect fit, indeed.

  7. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    So if he hadn't collected the royalty money, where would it have gone? Straight into the pockets of the streaming services, I guess. Not sure how the accountants would have hidden that as they won't want it to say "Royalties that weren't claimed, and we didn't try to deliver".

    Maybe the streamers should refuse to play songs they don't have the royalty recipient of. Pretty sure they would find the royalty owners that way.

    1. iron Silver badge

      > streamers should refuse to play songs they don't have the royalty recipient of

      Have you hear them whine when YT demoniteses them for using music they don't have the rights for? They don't give a shit about paying for music used.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        One addendum

        I upvoted you, but some youtubers DO want to license the music, but the whole rigmarole is ridiculous. The best solution is one chosen by many producers, they allow you to use the music, but grab the ad revenue. This seems fair.

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Some songs are free and don't owe royalties to anyone. If a song is not monetised that is surely the default status. It doesn't mean that royalties are going "straight into the pockets of the streaming services".

      1. JimC

        It doesn't mean that royalties are going "straight into the pockets of the streaming services".

        So where do you think money that would otherwise be paid as royalties is going?

        1. Scoured Frisbee

          Re: It doesn't mean that royalties are going "straight into the pockets of the streaming services".

          Non-monetized videos on YouTube don't run advertisements, generally, as I understand it. Once someone claims copyright and monetizes, or the author chooses to monetize, advertisements are added to the video, and those are revenue shared with the monetizing party.

          At church we've had some services monetized by "rights holders" of hymns+arrangements written by Charles Wesley (who died in London in 1788 - even before Walt Disney!). These videos tend to get fewer post-service views as folks click away during the ads. I've considered fighting about it but haven't bothered, which I suppose is the ambivalence these fellows banked on.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    ...and if he has doubts, we can keep discussing this in front of a federal judge, thanks.


    And so he did.

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