Stream-ripping sites, the new boogymen of the music industry, have been under heavy assault lately, a crusade which YouTube has happily joined in on. Unfortunately, these attempted shutdowns have been carried out with a typical lack of nuance which is now to be expected.
Op-ed by Timothy Geigner from Techdirt
As we've been talking about for a bit now, there is a new favorite target of the music industry when it comes to anti-piracy efforts: stream-ripping websites. It's important to continue to point out that, despite the plain fact that these sites are quite often used to generate audio-rips of copyrighted music video material, that is most certainly not their only use. Other uses for these sites are non-infringing. But this is the music industry we're talking about, with its storied history of carpet-bombing technology tools rather than precision bombing actual infringement.
Meanwhile, YouTube more recently decided to conspire with the music industry against these sites by blocking several prominent stream-ripping sites without word or warning. From that original post we wrote:
All of this is made even more strange in that Google didn't give any heads up about this new policy, isn't talking about it now, and has to know that it isn't going to work long-term.
That last bit was an easy prediction to make. I've seen the site-blocking movie before and I know how it ends. In ends in the game of whac-a-mole that almost immediately kicked off in the aftermath of the site-blocks.
And indeed, little over a week after the blocking efforts started, many of the targeted sites are able to rip MP3s from YouTube again.
Mp3-youtube.download almost instantly announced that it was working on a fix and today the site is working just fine. The same is true for Dlnowsoft.com, which was also blocked last week, as well as the massively popular Onlinevideoconverter.com, which is among the top 200 most-visited sites on the Internet.
There is some more in TorrentFreak's post, much of which seems to indicate that either YouTube didn't spend a great deal of time thinking about how it was going to win this inevitable battle or that YouTube wanted to take the most minimal actions it could to tell the music industry it was trying while knowing how this all was eventually going to go. If the latter, it's fairly cynical. If the former...well, it's probably not the former.
The block itself appeared to be a simple IP-range block, easily routed around by the site operators.
“To fix the problem, we simply used other servers that are not in the range of IP-addresses blocked by YouTube,” the operator of the stream-ripping site informed us.
If YouTube is indeed serious about its efforts to take out ‘voliative’ stream-ripping sites, it will likely block the new IP-addresses as well, eventually. This will then trigger a proverbial cat and mouse game, one we know all too well from other pirate site blocking efforts.
Mp3-youtube.download informs us that they indeed took countermeasures, like the other sites that work again.
“I think the YouTube update is stupid because we will always find a solution,” the operator says.
Stupid, perhaps, but not in the way that last quote suggests, I don't think. Instead, it would be better for YouTube, which obviously isn't taking this too seriously, to refuse the music industry's requests to inhibit technology tools that aren't in themselves infringing. YouTube can enforce its own ToS or not, but it shouldn't bother even pretending to want to do battle with site operators on behalf of the music industry.