Biggest YouTube Scam: two thieves steal US$23 million in royalties

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Spining

Two men from Phoenix, Arizona is the United State have used false claims to dupe a number of top Latin American musicians and copyright owners to the tune of US$23 million in royalties from their songs on YouTube.

Billboard last week detailed how the two men, Jose “Chenel” Medina Teran and Webster Batista, swindled Latin music artists like Daddy Yankee, Anuel AA, Julio Iglesias and others out of millions of dollars in royalties by loading their music onto YouTube and falsely claiming ownership.

According to Kristin Robinson of Billboard, the two swindlers set up a media company called MediaMuv and claimed to own the rights to various Latin music songs and compositions. In total, MediaMuv claimed to own more than 50,000 copyrights since 2017, when Teran and Batista began their scheme.

In order for MediaMuv to claim these copyrights and collect royalties through YouTube’s Content ID system, the fraudulent company needed to partner with AdRev, a third-party company that has access to YouTube’s CMS and Content ID tools and helps artists manage their digital copyrights.

MediaMuv created a few fake documents and provided AdRev with this paperwork in order to prove ownership over the music it claimed. From there, AdRev not only helped MediaMuv collect royalties for those copyrights but also provided Terana and Batista with direct access to YouTube’s CMS so they could claim copyrights on their own.

Teran and Batista’s four-year-long royalties heist came to an end late last year following an investigation from the IRS.

According to Billboard, the two were indicted on “30 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.”

Tech website Mashable called the mega heist “a huge reminder that online copyright is deeply flawed…”

“Just think about how many more careful scammers are still skimming royalties off of an untold number of artists,” Mashable said.

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