US Judge recommends $80m+ in damages in case against stream-ripping services

A US Judge has recommended that operators of two stream-ripping sites pay over $80 million in damages for circumventing YouTube’s anti-piracy measures and infringing copyrights in audio recordings.

The case was brought by the RIAA and more than a dozen record labels including Universal, Warner and Sony back in 2018, with the RIAA stating at the time that the two sites, and, were responsible for “enormous damage being inflicted on the U.S. record industry,”

The lawsuit followed the record business’s legal action against, which at the time was the the world’s largest site dedicated to offering illegally “stream ripped” music, in 2016.

In October, a court in Virginia issued a default judgment in favor of the RIAA and the record companies, who sought an award of statutory damages of $50,000 for each of the 1,618 copyrights they say were infringed.

In a report published last week, US Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan recommended on that the operators of the sites should pay the damages requested by the RIAA.

The magistrate also recommended the issuance of a permanent injunction against the websites’ piracy activities and ordered the operators to pay the labels’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

The RIAA describes the sites’ activity as a “sophisticated piracy operation”, which included more than 300 million global users during a single twelve-month period.

It adds that the site “encouraged copyright infringement and then profited itself by selling advertising on its websites”.

Several national governments including the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Spain and even Russia have ordered internet providers to block access to these commercial piracy websites.

The US Magistrate Judge’s recommendation, which you can read in full here, will now be reviewed by US District Judge Claude Hilton for a final determination and order.

“This ruling is a major step forward to protect artists, songwriters, record labels, and consumers from one of the most pernicious forms of online piracy.”

Ken Doroshow, RIAA

RIAA Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow said: “This litigation sets out vital first principles that should chart a path for further enforcement against foreign stream-rippers and other forms of online piracy that undermine the legitimate market for music.

“Having previously confirmed the jurisdiction of American courts over foreign websites that cause harm in our country – a critical principle that allows US copyright owners as well as other victims of serious online illegality to seek redress – the court’s latest ruling further establishes the substantive liability of stream-ripping services like FLVTO for copyright infringement and makes clear that circumvention of technical protection measures like YouTube’s rolling cipher is its own separate unlawful act.”

“This ruling is a major step forward to protect artists, songwriters, record labels, and consumers from one of the most pernicious forms of online piracy.”Music Business Worldwide