A letter to Blue2Digital clients regarding the issue with Vevo

We are presenting the results of our investigation on the issue left unresolved since 2015
Dear Blue2Digital Clients,
I am following up on the letter sent to you on August 5, 2015. We apologize to those who we didn't reply to earlier, but it took us years to investigate the issue and find out what actually happened.
In 2012 our company launched Blue2Digital as a highly successful digital music distribution service. We had a Membership Agreement with Merlin B.V. that stood for a "global digital rights agency for the world's independent label sector" formally headquartered in the Netherlands, but actually run in the United Kingdom. The Agreement comprised several music distribution deals to multiple digital music platforms (Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, Vevo etc.). The digital platforms (including Vevo) demanded that all the payments for the digital music sales be made through Merlin.
In April 2015, Vevo sent us the delayed royalty reports for January 2015 (as the first in a row) that did not reflect the actual number of views generated from the videos owned by Blue2Digital's artists. Of course, it did affect the amount Vevo was supposed to pay out and it was significantly smaller than it should have been. Millions of video views were missing (especially the most valuable ones made by the viewers in the United States) and we refused to send such doctored reports over to our clients. Instead of providing us with genuine data, which we, adamantly, were insisting on, Vevo decided to teach us a lesson. In May 2015, as their "response" to our enquiry, Vevo took down the videos distributed by Blue2Digital and kept them offline for two weeks. During that time, they didn't reply to our emails or phone calls, so we couldn't tell our clients what was going on.
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With the help of Merlin, who confiscated all the money our company had with them and a couple of scammers (who either were involved with initiating the issue, or came up as a consequence), Vevo aborted any further payments to our company having left an enormous debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars unpaid to us and our clients. They even required that almost all the money they had paid us for the period 2014-2015 be returned to them, although no suspicious activity or irregularity upon any of our clients' accounts had ever been reported. So instead of reimbursing our company and its clients, Vevo required that we all should reimburse them (?!)...
The very most of Blue2Digital's artists whose videos were taken down from Vevo were registered in the United States. Vevo has never come out with an official explanation on this matter and never offered any compensation. Every effort we made to reach an agreement and settle the matter was arrogantly ignored.
We were then suggested to sign a deal with Universal Music Group. It seemed to be a very good idea considering the fact that UMG was one of VEVO's owners. Other than resolving this issue, we thought it would put our clients in a more advantageous position and they'd be far better off being part of the deal in terms of protecting their copyrights and gaining the respect of music platforms (so their videos would never be taken down again, for example). However, it appeared that the deal (as provided by John Guerrier De'Bey a.k.a. Sean Larvonde Thurman who once worked for Universal Music Group) that we signed and paid for was never properly countersigned. It apparently was a fake contract.
Brent LaBarge, Head of Trademark Group and Business and Legal Affairs at Universal Music Group, sent us an enquiry with regard to the alleged music distribution deal with Universal Music Group and our alleged affiliation with Universal Music Group. I tried to contact him back shortly after he had sent his email, but Mr. LaBarge wouldn't respond to any of my emails or return to my phone calls.
Making things worse, instead of being acquired by UMG (as we were falsely informed of), we found out that around 1,000 videos distributed by Blue2Digital were, in actual fact, illegally carried over to an obscure distributor called "MarvMent", which Vevo pretended to know nothing about, although it was the Director of Content Operations at Vevo who had managed the transfer by himself. This is the reason why the videos were confusingly taken down and reinstated a couple of times during that year.
It turned out that Vevo couldn't count the video views properly. If a company intends to host a video service, it must provide a reliable tracking software to analyze the website (or app) visitors and determine whether some video views are regular or not. There was one or more counting issues that Vevo was unable to deal with and that's where it all came from. Things, however, have gone far more complicated than it might seem at first sight.
Having considered all the facts and results of our investigation, we had no other choice but turning them all in to the U.S. Authorities. On August 30, 2017 and November 15, 2017, all the aforementioned companies and scammers involved were reported to the IC3 via WWW.IC3.GOV.
Shortly after the submission of our report, on December 15, 2017 Vevo's board of directors announced a "leadership transition at the world's leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform". Erik Huggers, Vevo's President and CEO since 2015, had decided to step down to "pursue new opportunities".
Expectedly, on May 24, 2018 Vevo announced "changes to its owned and operated platforms" which resulted in Vevo shutting down its video-hosting service.
I am absolutely certain that Vevo's shutting down doesn't mean much to any of us. Our company and its clients have suffered both material and non-material damage. Our service has lost its good reputation and it takes time and effort to recover. Our clients have turned disappointed and confused and some of them even thought it was us who took the money and vanished overnight. We tried to deal with the situation the best we could, although it wasn't our fault at all. Messages with an offensive and threatening tone of voice was something we had to deal with too. Check this article, for example.
Meanwhile, the guys who should have been put behind bars and banned from the music business for a lifetime are still at large grinning cheerfully on social networks and hanging around as music managers, directors, lawyers, consultants, gurus, or fake musicians... Have they fooled the legal system or not? What do the authorities say about it? Once the new music services have been established and new technologies developed, these very same scammers and fake entrepreneurs will be put in charge for their implementation. Are we going to let them get away with it? Isn't it too much damage they have caused so far and too much trouble they are likely to cause in the years to come?
No, we must make sure that the problem does not recur under any circumstances.
Sincerely,
Vladimir Milicev, Blue2Digital, CEO
Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering
University of Belgrade - Faculty of Electrical Engineering
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