MediaMuv YouTube Scammers Slapped With $3.4 Million in Restitution Charges

MediaMuv YouTube scammers
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MediaMuv YouTube scammers
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Photo Credit: Christian Wiediger

The two men behind the MediaMuv YouTube copyright scam have been slapped with $3.4 million in restitution charges as hundreds of disadvantaged artists have come forward.

The two men found guilty of extracting over $23 million in revenue from YouTube’s Content ID system by masquerading as legitimate music rights holders have been court ordered to pay nearly $3.4 million in restitution. The criminal proceedings, initially launched in 2021, have led hundreds of artists to come forward who were affected by the scam.

In 2021, the US Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into two men suspected of running a large-scale YouTube Content ID scam — notoriously misusing YouTube’s own anti-piracy system to exploit the very rights holders the system was designed to protect.

Though not a direct member of the Content ID program, the scammers’ company, MediaMuv LLC., operated through a “trusted third-party company” that had access to the platform via a partnership with AdRev, owned by Downtown Media Holdings. By falsely claiming to own the rights to over 50,000 copyrighted songs, the scammers extracted more than $23 million in revenue.

The first defendant, Webster Batista, pleaded guilty in 2022, explaining that the scheme was to find Latin music not yet monetized on YouTube and claim the content as their own. In February 2023, the second defendant, Jose Teran, signed a plea agreement admitting to his part in the conspiracy, committing wire fraud, and money laundering. In addition to jail time, both men have had to forfeit possessions related to the crimes, including several cars, pieces of real estate, and bank accounts.

Authorities requested victims of the scam — mostly Latin music artists who were not yet monetizing their content on YouTube — to come forward so they could be granted restitution. Within the past several weeks, roughly 800 artists submitted their claims, some of which exceeded $100,000. Artists were represented by their lawyers, and some by their label, while other claims were submitted by the RIAA on behalf of the artists.

“Along with the other standard conditions concerning the repayment of restitution, the parties agree that Webster Batista and Jose Teran will be jointly and severally liable for the restitution, restitution is due immediately, and Batista and Teran be ordered to make minimum monthly payments,” reads the stipulation.

In total, the US Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys reached an agreement of $3,365,352.85 in restitution, due immediately. One of the largest claims comes from the widow of Mexican singer-songwriter Agustín Ramírez, Cecilia Ramírez, which totals $149,227.23. The RIAA’s claim totals $1,247,719.76.