U.S. Government Imposes 70-Month Prison Sentence for MediaMuv/AdRev Royalties Scammer: ‘This Case Is About Greed’

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Photo Credit: Emiliano Bar

In February, Jose Teran, one of the individuals behind the approximately $23 million MediaMuv/AdRev music royalties scam, accepted a plea deal, admitting to wire fraud, conspiracy, and more. Now, based on the recommendation of the U.S. Government, Teran has received a 70-month sentence, according to court paperwork first shared with Digital Music News and later confirmed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.

The government recently explained the guideline in a sentencing memorandum, summarizing the years-long scheme and reiterating the “exorbitant profits” reaped by Teran. Webster Batista Fernandez, Teran’s partner in the brazen royalty-theft operation, took a plea deal of his own in April of 2022 and is expected to be sentenced in August.

In brief, the far-reaching crime – which initiated way back in 2017 – saw Fernandez and Teran establish a company called MediaMuv and then use this entity to claim ownership of over 50,000 (mostly Spanish-language) songs.

All while aggressively refuting copyright claims from the works’ actual owners and eliciting ample rightsholder pushback by showing off their ill-gotten gains online, the fraudsters raked in around $23 million worth of YouTube royalties that weren’t theirs, according to Teran’s signed plea agreement. (Teran forfeited multiple properties and vehicles, as well as about $1.02 million, as part of this same plea deal, per the document.)

Needless to say, getting the scam’s cash into the hands of the victims (many of whom reside outside the U.S.) will prove a tall task. At present, the government is encouraging those who can prove they possess stakes in the involved songs — the list of impacted works spans an astonishing 1,349 pages — to contact victim witness specialist Todd McKenney (todd.mckenney@usdoj.gov).

Besides hiring “employees” to help with the scam, the royalty rip-off artists enlisted Downtown’s AdRev to collect the revenue in question; Noah Becker, co-founder and former president of the latter, departed soon after Billboard published an in-depth report on MediaMuv.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Becker last year co-founded (and is a lead investor in) a company that makes “the world’s first hemp based, small batch protein powder.”

Moving beyond these noteworthy background details, the initially mentioned 70- to 87-month sentencing recommendation – per the plea deal, “the defendant’s sentence shall not exceed the low-end of the sentencing range” – is designed “to deter future conduct,” according to the memorandum, which drives home that “Teran received $6,273,772.33 in proceeds over the course of the scheme.”

“The government is also troubled by Mr. Teran’s plans to remain in the music business,” the legal text proceeds, “where he will again have access and connections to the same mechanisms that allowed him to perpetrate this fraud.”

The document likewise indicates that Teran “continued to claim stolen royalty payments” even after being indicted, specifically by transferring close to $200,000 to a newly created bank account to keep the cash “out of the government’s reach.”

“Finally, a significant sentence is warranted for purposes of general deterrence,” the memorandum states towards its conclusion. “Because of its scope, the significant loss amount, and the extravagance with which Teran and Batista lived off of the stolen proceeds, the music industry has taken a keen interest.

“In particular, this case received significant attention from the music-related publication, ‘Billboard.’ Thus, a substantial sentence is also necessary to deter others from replicating this scheme.”