The popular Germany-based YouTube to MP3 converter website, youtube-mp3.org, is being sued by three organisations that represent the music industry — the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry), and the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry).
In a report published earlier this month, the IFPI highlighted that YouTube has become “the most used music service” in 13 of the world’s leading music markets they surveyed. In the same report, it was mentioned that a whopping 50 percent of the 16 to 24-year-old survey respondents used stream ripping services like the above-mentioned website to download music.
Suggesting that the publishing of the report and the following legal action was no coincidence, TorrentFreak has said that a coalition of record labels has sued YouTube-MP3 (a.k.a YTMP3) for infringing their rights. YouTube-MP3 is suggested to be the largest stream ripping website in the world, raking in more than 60 million monthly visitors, and at the outset, uses advertising to generate revenue for its service that is free for users. The group pursuing legal action claims that stream ripping has surpassed downloading music from sites that host pirated content.
YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures. “Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels add.
The IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said, “Music companies and digital services today offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – over hundreds of services with scores of millions of tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream ripping sites should not be allowed jeopardise this.”
By extracting audio from a song uploaded on YouTube, it also breaches the video streaming service’s Terms of Service. Since YouTube depends on advertising to earn money for the content creator (and itself for maintaining the platform), ripping content like songs will rob it of the compensation once the song is ripped and listened to offline and outside of YouTube’s app.
Cary Sherman, CEO and Chairman of the RIAA said, “This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels. We are doing our part, but everyone in the music ecosystem who says they believe that artists should be compensated for their work has a role to play. It should not be so easy to engage in this activity in the first place, and no stream ripping site should appear at the top of any search result or app chart.”
In the past, the RIAA has fought against peer-to-peer file sharing services of the yesteryears like Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire under similar grounds.