Unauthorized use of a track on streaming services

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f4d5be949e0>

I’ve added the standalone recording WE ARE NUMBER ONE – instrumental. Its SoundCloud upload seems to be the only official release of this track (it was uploaded by LazyTown staff, presumably with permission). However, it looks like the record label State51 Conspiracy has illegally uploaded that track to YouTube Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, Napster and Deezer under the artist 4Fate as though it were an official music release, which has resulted in the track being assigned the ISRC QZ22B1742049. (None of the songs from seasons 3 and 4 of LazyTown have had official releases aside from their YouTube uploads, so they aren’t on streaming services and don’t have ISRCs.)

In this case, is it appropriate to add those bootleg releases or the ISRC to MusicBrainz?

Just my humble opinion as a lawyer:

  1. MusicBrainz is not a platform to solve legal disputes.
  2. MusicBrainz does not provide illegal content.
  3. Not entering a release will not change that the release exists nor deter others from exchanging it.
  4. This database strives for completion. As such, it will even do license holders a favor in tracking down existing bootlegs.
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I’ve added the 4Fate release without specifying whether or not it’s an official release. I’m not sure if I’ve tagged it correctly, considering the fairly unique situation.

I’m thinking about whether or not to add the SoundCloud upload as a release, and whether or not the releases should be part of the same release group. It isn’t explicitly labeled as a single but I think adding it would be clearer than having the only release be what seems to be an unauthorized upload. [Edit: I’ve created the release for the SoundCloud upload in a separate release group.]

I would expand your annotation with the content of your first post.

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I’ve expanded the annotation to include some more background information.

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I would add them both in the same release group and mark the unsanctioned uploads as bootlegs.

This way people who browse MB can be correctly informed at a glance :slight_smile:

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Does it matter that the release artist is different for the two releases?

Did “4Fate” have anything to do with the actual release? I’d set the real artist, but change his name using the “credited as” bit.

Certainly one for lots of extra notes in the Annotation. This kind of history is worth noting at Release Group level. I don’t know how ISRC works, but it is a bit cheeky to manage to grab credit - and I assume royalties - for someone else’s work.

Well, the problem is that we don’t really have any information about them. Presuming no direct ill intent on Terrabyte Studios’ part, all we know is

  • 4Fate is also credited for a track on two other Terrabyte compilation albums, as well as another similar single
  • 4Fate got their tracks published through Terrabyte Studios, and their social media and streaming service profiles were presumably created through this process

Their SoundCloud profile picture is the default, and the single cover is just the generic template that Terrabyte also used on at least one other release by their artist MrLonely Wolf, “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (which, coincidentally, is the same track that was credited to 4Fate on the aforementioned compilation albums). Some other Terrabyte singles of the same sort (all by MrLonely Wolf?) also use that image template, and they also seem to be paired Instrumental/Karaoke releases with Karaoke being an obvious imitation and Instrumental possibly being the actual instrumental. (4Fate’s other single, of course, is “We Are Number One (Karaoke Version)”.)

In general, Terrabyte releases seem to be kind of haphazard about artist credits (there are some other tracks that are credited to MrLonely Wolf on one album and another artist on others), and often the social media profiles are so sparse (or nonexistent/deleted, in some cases) that there’s basically nothing to connect them to real people. 4Fate’s Twitter account has zero tweets and zero followers.

State51 Conspiracy is a weird company; its top-level website is basically blank and offers virtually no information (the form on the “truth” link just sends a generic “we’ll get back to you later” to the email, and the “dare” link is a series of generic unlisted YouTube videos which leads to recent music uploads), and its address for Terrabyte is a two-floor house in a residential area of Basildon, England (in spite of the State51 address being in London), but it seems to nevertheless have legitimate divisions/partners like Silva Screen (which publishes TV show soundtracks). I don’t really know what to make of it. My hypothesis would have been that maybe someone published the track through Terrabyte without informing them that it was downloaded off the Internet, but there isn’t very much evidence to support or disprove that.

This page seems to be related. It’s quite unusual, considering that the description goes straight to a copyright concerns email and the right sidebar is full of red flags.

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Ooh, definitely an even better reason to group them together!

Using ‘credited as’ as @IvanDobsky suggests. Maybe add an alias to the correct artist as well, so searches for the bogus one pop up the correct one. Means that anyone looking for the illegal upload on MB can see, aha, it’s a bootleg of this release, and it’s actually by this artist.

Also adding State51 Conspiracy as a label or a publisher will help other people researching the subject and give a nice home (in the annotation?) for all the research you’ve done :slight_smile:

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You mean on the release group or the 4Fate release? I don’t really understand how this would work.

The state51 Music Group and The state51 Conspiracy already existed, as did Terrabyte, but I don’t know how these and the release should be linked together. In their online shop’s terms and conditions it only says Terrabyte Studios in association with the state51 conspiracy, and doesn’t explicitly indicate any other formal relationship between the two entities.

In general there doesn’t seem to be much information about Terrabyte – their website, Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp are all dead, leaving their YouTube channels, Dailymotion, Spotify and Instagram. Aside from the links in the previous posts, we know that their main business model is/was apparently distributing artists’ music for free and letting them keep most of the royalties, and they are associated with or used to be called Lone Wolf Records. British government records show that they were incorporated for just over a year between May 2017 and May 2018, but their director (one of two named staff) was named in a MrLonely Wolf video in 2015 (their video metadata implies that that person is the same as MrLonely Wolf). (According to their LinkedIn and Discogs they were created in 2015, the same year as state51.) I’m not really familiar with how to look up public information about companies, so there may still be some details missing.

[Edit: It looks like there is also a fair amount of relevant information on what looks to be the director’s LinkedIn profile, but it doesn’t really show much concrete, relevant information that isn’t elsewhere.]

[Edit 2: https://musicbrainz.org/user/TerrabyteStudios, which I didn’t notice.]

Having (finally) done a Twitter search, which I really should have done earlier, it looks like there is an initial release on 2016-12-17 of a two-track Spotify album with the (possibly invalid) ISRCs QZ22B1636352 and QZ22B1636353, with MrLonely Wolf credited for two tracks and 4Fate credited for one. Two 4Fate singles with the same upload date and same track lengths (but with different ISRCs, QZ22B1742049 and QZ22B1636913) are on iTunes, although one of them may be retroactive given the 2017 ISRC (which is the same as the recording in MusicBrainz). These would appear to be the original releases of WANO (Karaoke) and WANO (Instrumental), before the re-releases on 2016-12-20 (Karaoke) and 2017-01-15 (Instrumental).

So:

  • Should 4Fate be linked to MrLonely Wolf as a performing name? Should the artists be merged?
  • Should all of the ISRCs be added? Are some of them invalid?
  • Should the two-track single share a release group with either the “instrumental” single or the “karaoke” single?

Okay, there’s a lot to go through here, I’m a bit lost haha :stuck_out_tongue:

What I would do:

  • I would add everything into the 2 track single RG. Otherwise merge any existing release groups where the musical content within is the same

  • Add the standalone recording as a (bootleg) release into the relevant release group

  • Where the artist has been given a fake name (if I’m following correctly), use ‘as credited’ for that release as in the gif below:

  • Merge any artists where it’s just a matter of something being credited differently - e.g. there is no evidence of a distinct different musical ‘persona’. This is a grey area…

  • After merging artists, add all merged names to the merge target artist as an ‘Alias’ (in the top tab). Might be good to add any fake/bootleg artist names here as well (will make those search terms return the correct artist)

  • Add your lovely research above into the annotations for the relevant releases, artists, release groups and labels

  • Add all ISRC’s (imo)

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Are you saying the SoundCloud release by WEARENUMBERONE would be considered a bootleg? I’m not sure how exactly it should be categorized but my understanding is that it was released with permission.

To be clear:

  • WEARENUMBERONE, according to the SoundCloud profile’s description, was nominally created by Máni Svavarsson (composer), Stefán Karl (vocalist) and Mark Valenti (LazyTown staff) for the purpose of publicly releasing the stems after having received special permission to do so. The SoundCloud was linked to from an official LazyTown staff YouTube video on 2016-12-12 (Internet Archive link since the video has since been taken down).
  • MrLonely Wolf, aka Jake Cossington, is a British producer who worked as a producer at Terrabyte Studios and was named as a director of the company at one point.
  • The WEARENUMBERONE releases on SoundCloud are legitimate uploads and served as the first public release of the material.
  • The two-track Spotify album and all of the other singles on streaming services were published by Terrabyte and credited to MrLonely Wolf or 4Fate. The 2:19 recording is the original arrangement of the instrumental and the 2:22 recording is apparently a copy of the instrumental released by WEARENUMBERONE.
  • Only two relevant ISRCs appear in the ISRC search at ifpi.org, QZ22B1636913 and QZ22B1742049. The rest of them don’t appear in the database. I don’t know what this means.

Additionally, the YouTube video also links to a Mega upload of the stems, which still works. (Would this be considered a release in its own right?)

Ah sorry, I thought this was the release you were referring to when you mentioned the illegal upload in the original post.

You can add anything that is interesting/has data you consider notably different from other download sources (art, label, format) as a separate release, that’s up to you.

I don’t see the harm in adding ISRC’s that aren’t registered if it helps lead people to the correct release - again, useful information for the annotation?

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So far I’ve created an edit which would merge the artists and added the Mega download in a separate release group.