Spain: Court probes 14 TV channels on music royalty fraud

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A Spanish Court (Audiencia Nacional) has launched a probe into the role played by 14 TV channels in a possible €100 million fraud of misattributed royalties for music played on late-night shows.

Among the TV channels are public broadcaster RTVE, the largest private TV channels Mediaset and Atresmedia, and 11 Regional TV stations from Madrid, the Basque Country, Andalucia, Extremadura, Asturias, Galicia, Aragón, Baleares, Canarias, Castilla y León and Castilla La Mancha.

The fraud revolved around several members of SGAE, the entity that manages music rights and distributes royalties to musicians. The fraud could amount to €100 million over the 5-year period between 2006 and 2011.

Allegedly some authors and publishers passed off existing compositions as new recordings or made minor adjustments to old songs, registering the rights under their own names or those of family members. Then, the ‘owners’ of the recordings bribed producers at the TV channels under investigation to air the newly registered music in late night slots, allowing the rightsholders to collect royalties.


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