The world's most popular stream ripping website, YouTube-mp3.org is being sued by a coalition of music industry groups. They claim the website and others like it are illegally allowing users to download music converted by the site to permanent files, in violation of copyright law.
We've been reporting recently on the proliferation of the practice of stream ripping and how it may be affecting sales of music downloads. The latest figures indicated a sharp drop in the amount of digital music downloads purchased in the past year, at the same time, a research study indicated that half of all young persons between the ages of 16 and 24 had engaged in the process of stream ripping.
Stream ripping involves the copying of a URL from YouTube, SoundCloud or other video and audio website and pasting it into an online converter which then creates a downloadable music file in the form of an .mp3, which the user can then keep in his or her music library permanently. There are also a number of downloadable stream ripping programs.
It appears as if the music industry has identified stream ripping as a huge threat and is now taking action to stop it. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) have jointly filed a lawsuit against the largest and oldest stream ripping site, YouTube-mp3.org.
The website, which is located in Germany, was deemed legal in that country in 2011 by the German Federal Ministry, that country's version of the United States Department of Justice, as long as the videos converted are intended for private use.
The U.S., however, hasn't yet had a court precedent set regarding the use of stream ripping sites, and now the industry coalition is hoping that the practice will be deemed in violation of U.S. law.
"Both the site and its operator have generated millions of dollars without paying any remuneration to artists and rights holders," according to the RIAA. IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore added that the use of the site is a "blatant infringement" of copyright laws. "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," added Moore.
If the suit is successful, it seems clear that further legal action will be taken against similar stream ripping sites in an attempt to eliminate the practice.