The BPI and organisations representing record companies in the US have taken legal action against Youtube-mp3.org, the world’s largest site dedicated to offering illegally “stream ripped” music. Both the site and its operator have generated millions of dollars without paying any remuneration to artists and rights holders, IFPI says. The activities also breach YouTube’s Terms of Service.
Stream ripping is the process of “ripping” or creating a downloadable file from content that is available to stream online. It is often done with music videos, to create copies of tracks that can be downloaded and listened to offline or on other devices.
In the US, legal proceedings were filed in federal court in California against the site and its operator, Philip Matesanz, for flagrantly violating copyrights. In the UK, the BPI, representing UK record labels, put the stream ripping site on formal notice of intended legal action if it does not cease infringing.
Stream ripping is the fastest growing form of music piracy globally and has now replaced other forms of downloading as the most prevalent form of online music piracy. Research published earlier this month by IFPI and Ipsos found that stream ripping sites are operating on a massive scale, with 49% of all 16-24-year olds engaged in the activity, according to Ipsos.
YouTube-mp3.org is the largest stream-ripping site with more than 60 million unique users per month. Based in Germany, the site has a global user base and provides a simple way of creating an audio file from a YouTube video.
Despite paying no money to the creators or owners of music, stream ripping sites are using the high levels of traffic they generate to make money from advertising. The prominently placed adverts on YouTube-MP3, often from major brands, are estimated to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per month for YouTube-mp3.
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”.
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”. To read BPI’s press release in full, click here.