This story continues to refuse to go away.
In 2018, TIDAL became embroiled in an explosive alleged ‘fake streams’ scandal that came to light following a lengthy investigation by Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) .
DN reported that it had obtained a company hard drive, belonging to TIDAL, which proved the streaming platform’s play-counts for two major albums from 2016 – Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo – had been grossly manipulated.
The illicit hard drive, reported DN, contained ‘billions of rows of [internal TIDAL data]: times and song titles, user IDs and country codes’.
TIDAL strongly rejected the authenticity of the contents of the hard drive, but DN reported that the play counts during the dates and for the albums in question corresponded exactly with other information it had received from record labels.
Then, in January last year, we learned that Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) – which can be thought of as Norway’s equivalent of the FBI – had launched an investigation into potential ‘fake streams’ at TIDAL.
This week brings more news in the ongoing saga.
DN reported yesterday (June 9) that a recent Norwegian Supreme Court Appeals Committee ruling has revealed that TIDAL has been an official suspect in a “serious data fraud investigation” by the Norwegian authorities since June 21 last year.
TIDAL’s lawyer, Fredrik Berg at the law firm Fend, declined to comment on the matter, reports DN.
The case to which this particular ruling refers, according to an official court document obtained by MBW, was “based on suspicion of serious data fraud in the form of manipulation of stream numbers”.
This resulted in Økokrim requesting to seize TIDAL documents in spite of them “containing business and operating secrets”.
“The prosecuting authority is allowed to seize documents relating to the [streaming] platform and business model of [TIDAL] and containing business and operating secrets.”
District Court ruling in MArch
DN reports that a legal ‘back and forth’ ensued between TIDAL, the courts and the prosecution (Økokrim), which petitioned the courts to allow it to seize the documents.
And on March 18, 2020, the District Court finally ruled: “The prosecuting authority is allowed to seize documents relating to the [streaming] platform and business model of [TIDAL] and containing business and operating secrets.”
According to DN’s report: “In the ruling of the Supreme Court, Tidal stated that the Court of Appeal should have reviewed the individual documents in the case to determine whether they could be seized. Instead, TIDAL believes that this assessment has been left to the prosecuting authorities.
“However, the prosecuting authorities believed that the Court of Appeal had correctly understood the law when it came to the conclusion that the law does not require that a decision be made on each individual document.
“The Appeals Committee considered that the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the law was correct and rejected the appeal.”Music Business Worldwide