YouTube to MP3 converters block UK traffic

Stream ripping is hot news in the music industry the moment, arguably they it is seen as one of the largest threats of piracy. The reasoning for it being such a threat is clear, numerous stream ripping websites allow users to ‘lift’ content from YouTube and convert it into MP3s, meaning that users have access to content when and where they want and without paying for it.

YouTube-MP3, the worlds leading YouTube stream ripping site, recently settled with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and a number of other major record labels. Although the finer points of the settlement are not known, YouTube-MP3 did agree to hand over its domain name and shut down indefinitely.  With the recent victory, the RIAA and a cohort of major record labels went out and identified a number of other targets in their list of ‘notorious’ piracy websites.

The RIAA’s action against YouTube-MP3 combined with the list of ‘notorious’ piracy websites seems to impacted on other stream ripping websites. MP3Juices and YtMp3 have also shut their doors, however only in the UK and for reasons unknown.

Whilst the BPI did sign an agreement with YouTube-MP3 to block access from the UK, it did not do anything similar with MP3Juices or YtMp3. Nonetheless, the BPI is heralding the closure of the sites as a victory.

BPI’s Chief Executive, Geoff Taylor, has explained that “We are seeing that the closure of the largest stream ripping site, YouTube-mp3, following coordinated global legal action from record companies, is having an impact on the operations of other ripping sites,” He went on to explain that it wasn’t over yet “However, stream ripping remains a major issue for the industry. These sites are making large sums of money from music without paying a penny to those that invest in and create it. We will continue to take legal action against other illegal ripping sites where necessary.”

However, in a recent twist of fate, the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) has informed the Office of the US Trade Representative that by definition stream ripping sites do not infringe copyright. The EFF argues “RIAA’s discussion of ‘stream-ripping’ websites misstates copyright law. Websites that simply allow users to extract the audio track from a user-selected online video are not ‘illegal sites’ and are not liable for copyright infringement, unless they engage in additional conduct that meets the definition of infringement,”.

Further, a ‘legal use’ of a stream ripper might be the ripping of ‘happy birthday’, the song recently entered into the public domain and is therefore free to use.

One thing is for certain, stream ripping sites are on the rise and my guess is that blocking access in the UK will not do much for the bigger picture.Â

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