Man facing “first of its kind” trial for alleged streaming fraud after earning more than £500k in royalties

In order to generate the large sum of royalties made, a track would need to be streamed over 80 million times.

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A Danish man is currently facing trial for alleged streaming fraud after earning more than £500,000 (4.38m kroner) in royalties.

The case is being described as a “first of its kind” due to the large streaming numbers. It is alleged that the 53-year-old man profited from streams of 689 pieces of music across services including Spotify, Apple Music and YouSee Musik.

As reported by The Guardian, the trial is taking place in the city of Aarhus in Denmark, and is expected to be heard over three days, with a verdict due next Tuesday.

The outlet shares that the defendant has also been charged with breaching copyright law for allegedly taking works from other artists and editing them, before publishing them under his own name. He has pleaded not guilty.

His lawyer, Henrik Garlik, has spoken to Danish news outlet DR regarding the case (translation via The Guardian): “I don’t think that such a case – regarding matters which the prosecution believes to be data fraud in connection with playbacks of musical works via various tendering services – has ever been tried in court.

“Somewhat dependent on the result, there is a possibility that both my client and the prosecution will appeal the verdict to the high court. And I also do not want to deny that a case like this could reach the supreme court.”

Anna Lidell and Lasse Matthiessen, the chair and a vice-chair of Autor, the largest Danish association for composers, songwriters, lyricists and producers, have said that in order to generate 1m kroner, a track would need to be streamed 20 million times and would have to be entirely owned by the artist, songwriter and label. They state that they do not know for sure how the defendant has earned so many streams.

Prosecution are reportedly seeking a fine, a prison sentence, and the confiscation of the defendant’s royalties. The trial remains ongoing.

In other related news, Benn Jordan’s music, under his alias The Flashbulb, was taken off streaming platforms earlier this month allegedly due to “streaming fraud”. TuneCore, his primary digital distributor, claimed Spotify had “identified and removed a high amount of streams” from his royalty calculation due to “evidence of abnormal streaming activity” on his releases. It also claimed to have conducted “an additional internal investigation” and confirmed the evidence.

Jordan is meeting with legal counsel as a result, and said in a statement, “Whether this is malice related to my Spotify criticism or simply negligence, this is dystopian for reasons much larger than myself or my loss of income. While being erased from existence and gaslit is among one of the worst things that can happen to an artist, if there was one fight I was born to fight, it’s this one.”

MusicTech reached out to TuneCore as this news broke, and has not yet received as reply.


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