Another Example Of How The Playing Field Is Tilted In Favor Of Copyright Owners

from the copyright-abuse dept

It’s widely known that artists of all kinds often get a raw deal from the contracts they sign. But this kind of legal unfairness is not the only danger they face: copyright can also be turned against creators in other, illegal ways. For example, according to a report on MarketWatch:

Two men have been charged with allegedly running a years-long music royalty scam, in which they collected more than $20 million in payments from YouTube, by falsely claiming to hold the rights to 50,000 Spanish-language songs. 

Things began back in 2017, when the two men allegedly:

approached a third-party royalty management firm identified in court papers only by the initials A.R., falsely claiming to control the royalty rights to the songs. In some cases, Teran and Batista used forged notes from artists claiming they had the rights to manage the music, prosecutors said.

The men allegedly signed a contract with the management firm. Working with an established player seems to have given the accused credibility with YouTube, which then paid them royalties – an astonishing $20 million over the next few years according to the prosecutors. According to court documents, it seems that none of this was passed on to the artists concerned. In addition, YouTubers are alleged to have lost out when their uploads were falsely marked as infringing, and then used to generate income for the accused.

Assuming the details of this case are confirmed during the trial, they show how the digital copyright system takes on trust claims to ownership, if made in the right way – in this case, through an established royalty management firm. That trust contrasts strongly with a widespread reluctance by companies to recognize that people may be able to draw on copyright exceptions when they make copies, and a readiness to assume that it must be an infringement. It’s another example of how the playing field is tilted strongly in favor of copyright owners, and against ordinary citizens.

Originally published to the Walled Culture blog.

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Companies: youtube

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Comments on “Another Example Of How The Playing Field Is Tilted In Favor Of Copyright Owners”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, but unless I’m missing something that tactics are pretty much the same, and their ability to get away with it to the tune of $20 million just confirms how little real due diligence is performed on these claims. If you can get away with that for years just by claiming to be a copyright holder, imagine how much more can be made by a genuine copyright holder who abuses the system in a similar way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It is so tilted they don’t even need to bother with proof. The standards of the "born copyrighted" system means there can never be a proper validating system which can provide definitive proof.

As the maximalists intended. Without definitive proof all the public (and the judges) have to go on is faith and, as with any faith based judgement, there is not any bad faith unless you lack the gold to prove otherwise.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course it’s one sided, see dmca YouTube, creators often do not dispute dmca takedowns that are illegal, eg small youtubers don’t have the time or the money to get into a legal fight with big company’s
Use a few seconds of music and you may lose all the revenue on a 2 hour video
Big company’s are sending dmca notices on public domain music featured in YouTube videos, this is clearly illegal abuse of the Dmca process

Arijirija says:


all the time. I’ve read complaints on Del Camp’s classical guitar forums about guitarists posting some music video on Youtube playing some Public Domain piece that has been so for about a hundred years and having some fraudulent claimant claiming that it infringes their copyright and getting it taken down or getting ads placed on it where the income from those ads goes to someone else.

For some reason, too many people think that Public Domain means "Bail up! Stand and Deliver! Your money or your life!"

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