YouTube-mp3.org is officially no more after a US court approved a settlement reached between the Germany-based stream-ripping service and the Recording Industry Association Of America.
As previously reported, although stream-ripping – converting temporary streams into permanent downloads – isn’t a new phenomenon, it has risen up the music industry’s piracy gripe list in recent years. The RIAA sued YouTube-mp3.org and its founder Philip Matesanz last year, while the UK’s trade body BPI put the stream-ripping site on notice that it would also take legal action if it didn’t cease and desist.
A settlement of the American litigation was presented to the court for approval earlier this week. In it Matesanz committed to shut down his website, hand over its URLs to the RIAA, and to not participate in any copyright infringing ventures in the future. He will also pay damages to the US trade body and its members.
Matesanz previously had a run in with the German record industry back in 2013, in a case that specifically focused on YouTube-mp3.org storing back ups of the MP3 files it had converted. That constituted direct copyright infringement on Matesanz’s part, given neither the record companies nor YouTube grant permission for users to make permanent copies of music streaming on the Google site.
Although Matesanz committed to stop keeping the back-up files, that didn’t stop YouTube-mp3.org from being liable for copyright infringement, including so called contributory or authorising infringement. That principle says that those who facilitate the infringement of others may also be held liable for that infringement.
The specifics of contributory and authorising infringement vary from country to country, but the legal case against YouTube-mp3.org seemed pretty strong in both the US and the UK, which presumably motivated the settlement on Matesanz’s part.
Welcoming that settlement as it got court approval yesterday, RIAA boss Cary Sherman told reporters: “This is a significant win for millions of music fans, as well as music creators and legitimate music services. One of the world’s most egregious stream-ripping sites has shuttered. Sites like these undermine the health of the legitimate marketplace and the livelihoods of millions of music creators worldwide. The swift and successful conclusion of this case should send an unmistakable signal to the operators of similar sites”.
The action against YouTube-mp3.org was a joint effort by the US and UK record industry trade bodies and the globally-focused International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry. It’s chief Frances Moore said: “Stream-ripping sites blatantly infringe the rights of record companies and artists. Today, music companies and licensed digital services work together to offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – hundreds of services with over 40 million tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream-ripping sites should not be allowed to jeopardise this and we will continue to take action against these sites”.
Of course, while YouTube-mp3.org was the leading stream-ripping platform, there are plenty of other sites offering a similar service, and since news of the German operation’s impending closure broke earlier this week, there has been much chatter on the tech forums as to which are the better alternatives. Though it seems likely that at least some of the competitors which get a traffic boost on the back of YouTube-mp3.org’s closure could themselves be on the receiving end of similar litigation in the future.
Some reckon that, because the entertainment industry’s legal efforts to block piracy online are often akin to a game of whack-a-mole, such anti-piracy work is futile. But those pursuing that work disagree. The anti-piracy police argue that, while no one shutdown is a panacea, taking the major players in online piracy offline makes the illegal options for accessing music less and less attractive, and can therefore drive more people to the various licensed platforms for consuming digital music and other content.
To that end, the BPI yesterday claimed that its threat of legal action – which led to the YouTube-mp3.org instigating a geo-block so that less web-savvy users in the UK couldn’t convert any streams via the platform – not only resulted in the number of British visitors to that specific service decreasing by 70%, but also “an encouraging overall drop in UK visitor traffic to stream-ripping sites more generally”. According to ComScore data and the BPI’s maths, that decline in traffic to stream-ripping sites in general was 17%.
Which isn’t to say stream-ripping is going to go away any time soon, but the record industry still sees the closure of sites like YouTube-mp3.org as a decent step in the right direction.
Commenting, BPI boss Geoff Taylor said: “Music stands on the cusp of an exciting future in the streaming age, but only if we take resolute action against illegal businesses that try to siphon away its value. The firm action we have taken, led by our General Counsel Kiaron Whitehead and our Content Protection team, has made an impact in the UK, and we are determined to take further action as necessary against other stream-ripping sites to protect the rights of musicians and labels”.[from http://ift.tt/2lvivLP]