In February, Jose Teran, one of the individuals behind the approximately $23 million MediaMuv/AdRev music licensing scam, accepted a deal and admitted committing fraud, conspiracy and more. Now the US government has recommended him a 70-month prison sentence, according to court documents shared with Digital Music News.
The government recently detailed the policy in a judgment memorandum, summarizing the years-long plan and reiterating the “exorbitant gains” Teran had made. Webster Batista Fernandez, Teran’s partner in the brazen license-stealing operation, struck a deal himself in April 2022 and is expected to be sentenced in August.
In short, the wide-ranging crime that began back in 2017 resulted in Batista Fernandez and Teran forming a company called MediaMuv, and then using that company to claim ownership of over 50,000 (mostly Spanish-language) songs.
And all while aggressively denying copyright claims from the works. actually owners and provoked fierce resistance from rights holders indicate After cashing out their ill-gotten gains online, the scammers collected approximately $23 million worth of YouTube royalties, which Teran’s signed affidavit showed they did not own. (According to the document, Teran seized several properties and vehicles as well as about $1.02 million as part of the same plea.)
Needless to say, getting the scam’s money into the hands of victims (many of whom live outside the US) will be a tall order. Currently, the government is encouraging those who can prove they own interests in the songs in question – the list of affected works is a staggering 1,349 pages – to contact victim witness specialist Todd McKenney ((email protected)).
In addition to hiring “employees” to assist in the scam, Downtown’s rip-off artists hired Downtown to collect the proceeds in question; Noah Becker, co-founder and former president of the latter, left the company soon after billboard published a detailed report on MediaMuv.
According to his LinkedIn profile, last year Becker co-founded (and was a principal investor) a company that makes “the world’s first hemp-based protein powder in small batches.”
Beyond these remarkable background details, the originally mentioned recommendation for a sentence of 70 to 87 months – according to the plea agreement “the defendant’s sentence shall not exceed the lower end of the penalty range” – is intended to “deter future conduct”. The memorandum states that “Teran received $6,273,772.33 in proceeds during the course of the plan.”
“The government is also concerned about Mr. Teran’s plans to remain in the music business,” the law reads, “where he will again have access and connections to the same mechanisms that enabled him to commit this fraud.”
The document also shows that even after the indictment, Teran “continued to claim stolen royalties,” specifically by transferring nearly $200,000 to a newly established bank account to keep the money “out of government reach.”
“After all, a substantial penalty for the purpose of general deterrence is justified,” the memorandum concludes. “Due to its scale, the size of the loss, and the extravagance with which Teran and Batista lived off the stolen proceeds, the music industry has attracted a great deal of interest.
“This case in particular received significant attention from music publication Billboard.” Therefore, significant punishment is also needed to discourage others from repeating this scheme.”