Danish man faces trial over £500k fraud on music streaming platforms

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A Danish man has gone to court in the city of Aarhus, charged with fraudulently claiming 4.38 million kroner, over £502,000, worth of royalties from music streaming services.

According to prosecutors, the 53-year-old man allegedly profited over 689 tracks, across Spotify, Apple Music and the Danish streaming platform YouSee Musik. The prosecution argues that the huge amount of streams required to generate such a large amount of revenue could not have occurred organically from genuine users on the platforms.

Understood to have happened from 2013 until 2019, the prosecution argues the defendant employed unauthorised techniques to artificially increase the number of streams received on the platforms. The fraud case is due to last for three days, with a verdict expected from the court on February 27th.

In addition to fraud, the defendant also stands accused of breaching copyright law, by changing the length and tempo of works from other artists, before re-publishing them under his own name.

Henrik Garlik, the lawyer representing the defendant, told Danish broadcaster DR, “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.” Before adding that he may appeal the case to the supreme court in Denmark.

However, Anna Lidell and Lasse Matthiessen argued, “This is one of a kind, not only within Danish territory but globally. The scale of streaming numbers … has not been seen before.” The pair are the chair and vice-chair of Autor – the largest association of Danish musicians and artists.

The pair noted that, in order to generate one million kroner (less than a quarter of what the defendant stands accused of), a song would need to accumulate over 20 million streams – more than what most tracks on the current Spotify Top 50 playlist receive.

This is a developing story.

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