With over a billion users, YouTube is the largest video portal on the Internet.
The site is a blessing to thousands of content creators, but there are also concerns among rightsholders. The music industry, in particular, is not happy with the fact that music can easily be ripped from the site through external services.
Last week the major record labels managed to take out YouTube-MP3, the largest ripping site of all. Still, there are many like it that continue business as usual. For many music industry insiders, who see streamripping as one of the largest piracy threats, this is a constant source of frustration.
In the UK, music industry group BPI worked hard to tackle the issue proactively. Last year the organization already signed an agreement with YouTube-MP3 to block UK traffic. This limited the availability of the site locally, but the group believes that YouTube itself should take responsibility as well.
Geoff Taylor, BPI’s Chief Executive, tells TorrentFreak that they, and several other industry groups, have asked YouTube to step up to help solve this problem.
“BPI and other music industry bodies have been urging YouTube for several years to take effective action to block access to its servers for stream ripping sites, which infringe copyright on a huge scale and also breach YouTube’s terms of service.
“There are more steps YouTube could take to prevent stream ripping but so far the music community has been forced to pursue the stream ripping sites directly,” Taylor adds.
BPI is not alone in its criticism. After we broke the story last Monday, many reports followed, including an opinion piece on the industry outlet Hypebot asking why YouTube didn’t take more responsibility. In the comment section, long-time RIAA executive Neil Turkewitz, who left the organization a few weeks ago, came in with a strong opinion.
“This is something that Google/YouTube should have handled on its own. They were well aware of it, and didn’t need RIAA to step up to identify it as problematic,” Turkewitz notes.
The former RIAA exec speaks freely on the issue in his new role. He is now the head of his own Turkewitz Consulting Group, which fittingly focuses on expanding accountability in the Internet ecosystem.
“I should add, sadly, that Google is still steering people to stream rippers through auto-complete. If you search ‘YouTube,’ one of the first auto-complete recommendations you get is “YouTube to MP3!” Turkewitz states.
“C’mon Google, what’s with that? Not only have they not disabled access to available stream rippers, but they are driving traffic to them. That is inexcusable,” he adds.
In YouTube’s defense, the company isn’t completely apathetic when it comes to the stream-ripping problem. They have threatened legal action against YouTube-MP3 and similar sites in the past and implemented some restrictive measures. Still, they never went to court and, restrictions or not, the problem didn’t go away.
TorrentFreak contacted YouTube to hear their stance on the issue, but at the time of publication we haven’t heard back.
While many of the frustrations are not played out in public, it is clear that the stream-ripping problems further complicate the relationship between the labels and YouTube’s parent company Google.
In recent years, rightsholders have called out Google on many occasions over copyright-infringing content on YouTube, in their search engine results, and on their cloud hosting services. While the company has made several changes to accommodate the concerns, the critique hasn’t gone away.