Some of the world's biggest music labels are taking legal action against a site that allows users to rip audio from YouTube videos and convert them into MP3 audio files.
Sony, Warner Bros, and Universal are among the labels suing YouTube-mp3.org, seeking payment for damages from the company and its owner as well as asking for a court order that would forbid web hosts, advertisers and other third parties from enabling users to access the site.
Ripping sites such as YouTube-mp3.org, which allow users to convert the audio on YouTube videos into downloadable files without the copyright owners' permission, were already in violation of YouTube's terms of service, but now they're being targeted by music labels as "a major threat to the music industry."
Taking on piracy
According to IFPI, stream ripping has become the fastest growing form of music piracy on a global scale and that 49 percent of all 16-24 year olds have engaged in it.
The music labels are claiming that because of these sites "tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month" as people use them as an unlawful substitute to purchasing music or subscriptions to streaming sites.
The labels submitted the names of more than 300 songs as part of their evidence, alleging that they have been converted and downloaded by users of the YouTube-mp3 service. YouTube-mp3 has yet to respond to the claims.
With more than 60 million users per month, YouTube-mp3.org is being targeted by the labels as the "chief offender" with the Recording Industry Association of America's president, Cary Sherman, saying that the "site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels."
The case might not remain restricted to the Los Angeles courts, either.
Representing UK record labels, The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), has also issued a formal notice of intended legal action against YouTube-mp3.org if it doesn't put a stop infringing on copyright.
"It's time to stop illegal sites like this building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels," said the BPI's chief executive, Geoff Taylor, adding that he hopes search engines, advertisers and hosting providers will "reflect on the ethics" of supporting sites such as YouTube-mp3.org.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.