Youtube-mp3.org, the world’s largest site dedicated to offering illegally “stream ripped” music, is being taken to court by the record business.
According to MUSO, ripping sites – which enable users to ‘rip’ offline audio and video from YouTube videos – were responsible for around 18% of all music piracy last year.
They are the fastest-growing form of entertainment piracy online – research from IPSOS suggests that 49% of all 16-24 year olds engage in the activity.
YouTube-mp3.org boasts more than 60 million unique users per month, and is estimated to be responsible for upwards of 40% of all unlawful stream ripping of music from YouTube.
According to a legal filing which you can read in full through here, Universal, Sony and Warner filed a lawsuit against the Germany-based site’s owner, PMD TECHNOLOGIE UG – as well as its operator, Philip Matesanz – earlier today in California.
The majors are demanding a jury trial for a series of alleged offenses involving copyright infringement.
The lawsuit reads: “YTMP3 was designed and exists for one principal reason: to profit from the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of the popular copyrighted recorded music that appears on YouTube, a substantial portion of which is owned or controlled
It adds: “Stream ripping replaces lawful, revenue-generating streaming and downloads of recordings over the internet and sales of phonorecords in tangible media with the mass distribution of unauthorized copies, depriving copyright owners of compensation and enriching unlawful actors at copyright owners’ and artists’ expense.
“The scale of stream ripping, and the corresponding impact on music industry revenues, is enormous.”
Major label lawsuit
“The scale of stream ripping, and the corresponding impact on music industry revenues, is enormous.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream ripping services each month.”
The legal filing points out that from 2013 to 2015 alone, there was a 50% increase in unauthorized stream ripping in the
And in an uncommon stand of solidarity with YouTube’s anti-piracy tools, the major labels allege that YouTube-mp3.org is “unlawfully circumventing technological measures that YouTube has implemented to prevent the downloading or copying of content from the YouTube service”.
IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said: “This is a coordinated action to protect the rights of artists and labels from the blatant infringements of YouTube-mp3, the world’s single-largest ‘stream ripping’ site.
“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.”
Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (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 UK, the BPI, representing UK record labels, is putting the stream ripping site on formal notice of intended legal action if it does not cease infringing.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said: “It’s time to stop illegal sites like this building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels. Fans have access now to a fantastic range of legal music streaming services, but they can only exist if we take action to tackle the online black market.
“We hope that responsible advertisers, search engines and hosting providers will also reflect on the ethics of supporting sites that enrich themselves by defrauding creators.”
Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN (Worldwide Independent Network) & AIM (Association for Independent Music) endorsed the action, adding: “Stream ripping is not a victimless crime, it involves ripping off the artists and companies who invest their time and money into making music for the public to enjoy. The more stream ripping takes place, the less investment into music will be made to the ultimate detriment of music fans.”
Richard Burgess, CEO of A2IM, representing US independent record labels said: “Stream ripping is yet another illegal activity that deprives artists, songwriters, publishers, and labels of their rightful revenues and their ability to make a living. It must be stopped immediately.”
The prominently placed adverts on YouTube-MP3, often from major brands, are estimated to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per month for the business.Music Business Worldwide