Dane to appeal jail and fines for restreaming manipulated copyrighted music

Sponsor ad - 728w x 90h (at 72 dpi)

A 53-year-old man from East Jutland was sentenced on March 21st, to 1 year and six months in prison, of which three months were suspended; for data fraud and copyright infringements, after having manipulating copyrighted music works into artificial streams for re-distribution.

Between 2013 and 2016, the individual generated artificial streams of 689 music tracks and released them under his own name across various music streaming services. The Danish Rights Alliance reported the case on behalf of its members Koda, IFPI, Danish Musicians’ Union, and Danish Artist Union in 2018.

Sponsor ad

Several million plays were generated.  37 of the tracks were also edited versions of music he had copied from other musicians.

By distributing the streams via multiple music services, including Apple Music and Spotify, the individual became the 46th highest-earning musician in Denmark for a period, despite that the revenue was generated exclusively from streaming, without ever having been promoted or broadcast on radio or television.

Significant revenue

The distribution of these fraudulent streams generated at least 2 million Danish kroner (about $290,000 USD) in royalties to this individual and his business entity — funds that should have rightfully been distributed to the original artists, songwriters, producers and other rights holders with authentic streams on these platforms during the specified period.

Fines and sentencing

The sole proprietorship operated by the individual was fined 200,000 kroner (about $29,000 USD).  In addition to that fine, the court confiscated DKK $1 million (about $145,000 USD) each from the convicted and from his business entity.

The convicted individual must also pay the legal costs, but since the case has been underway for several years, the state pays half as compensation for the long processing time. The individual has chosen to appeal the verdict to the High Court. His name has been withheld.

Sets a precedent

“The case also shows that this type of fraud can be detected … and will be an important starting point to prevent similar cases in the future, especially with the development within artificial intelligence,” said Maria Fredenslund, CEO of the Danish Rights Alliance. “It’s crucial that the Section for Rights Protection at NSK (the National Special Crime Unit of the Danish National Police) is capable of handling this type of rights crime, which they have done excellently in this case,” she said.

Music industry stakeholders included Koda, a non-profit rights management organization that represents the works of Danish composers, songwriters and music publishers in Denmark and internationally.  Additional stakeholders included IFPI, the Danish Artist Union, and the Danish Musicians Union.

“Music streaming accounts for the majority of revenue in the Danish music industry, hence fraud with streaming has large negative consequences for artists and musicians,” said Sara Indrio, Chairperson at Danish Artist Union.  “It’s not just immoral, but blatantly unfair to manipulate payments that should rightfully go to dedicated and hardworking music creators,” added Jakob Hüttel, head of Legal for Koda.

Further reading

53 year-old sentenced to 1.5 years in prison in historic case of streaming fraud.  Press release.  March 21, 2024.  Danish Rights Alliance (RettighedsAlliancen.dk)

Jail sentence for music streaming fraud. Press release. March 21, 2024. National Unit for Special Crime, Danish National Police

Danish man found guilty of fraudulently profiting from music streaming services. Article. March 21, 2024. The Guardian

Denmark: East Jutlander music streaming case finally scheduled for court. Article. August 22, 2023. Piracy Monitor

Why it matters

The stake-holders deem this verdict to be historic: the first case of streaming fraud to be considered by Danish courts, which also sets a legal precedent for similar future cases.  It underscored that stream manipulation is a serious criminal trend with significant consequences for both the Danish and international music industry, and should be penalized accordingly.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
From our Sponsors