YouTube ContentID scammers must pay $3.3m to victims

Two men who scammed $23m out of ContentID, YouTube's internal copyright enforcement and monetization system, must pay artists $3.3m in restitution.

In 2021, the US Department of Justice launched a criminal proceeding against two men suspected of running a massive YouTube Content ID scam… The scammers' company, MediaMuv LLC., wasn't a direct member of the Content ID program. Instead, it operated through a trusted third-party company, which had access to the platform. By falsely claiming to own the rights to more than 50,000 copyrighted songs, the scammers generated more than $23 million in revenue. In 2022, the first defendant confessed to his part in the copyright swindle by pleading guilty. Webster Fernandez admitted it was a simple scheme: find Latin music that wasn't yet monetized on YouTube and claim the content as their own. In February of this year, the second defendant pleaded guilty. Jose Teran signed a plea agreement admitting that he was part of the conspiracy, engaging in wire fraud and money laundering.

That's about 7% of what they made. Justice is done! They did get jail time, though, in earlier criminal trials concerning the same scam. Would you do six years in prison if you had $19m (and a few hundred barely-recompensed victims) waiting for you on the other side?

I suppose YouTube can't fix ContentID because they're not free to do so: it was designed to please the entertainment industry, who want it greased in favor of claimants and who could not care less about the rights of unsigned artists.