Recording companies in the US and UK through its legal organization representatives are taking legal action against Youtube-mp3.org, the world’s largest site dedicated to offering illegally “stream ripped” music. The site and its operator have generated millions of dollars without paying any form of remuneration to artists and rights holders. Ironically, the activities breach YouTube’s Terms of Service. Stream ripping is the process of “ripping” or creating a downloadable MP3 file from content that is available online for streaming. It is often done from music videos in order to create copies of tracks that can be downloaded and listened to offline. According to the IFPI or International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the legal action is a “coordinated action to protect the rights of artists and labels from the blatant infringements of YouTube-mp3.”
In statement released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), “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, with over hundreds of services with scores of millions of tracks. And all this while compensating artists and labels. The YouTube stream ripping site jeopardizes all this. This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels.” In similar statements and support released and endorsed by the BPI or British Phonographic Industry, WIN or Worldwide Independent Network, and AIM or Association for Independent Music, “It’s time to stop illegal sites building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels. Fans now have access to a variety of legal music streaming services, but they can only exist if we take action to tackle the online black market. We hope that responsible advertisers, search engines and hosting providers will also reflect on the ethics of supporting sites that enrich themselves by defrauding creators.”
In the US, the legal proceedings were filed at the California federal court against the site and its operator, Philip Matesanz, for flagrant violation of copyrights. Similar legal action will soon be filed in the UK courts. In research conducted and published by IFPI, around 49 percent of 16-24 year olds in the U.S. alone are engaged in steam ripping activity due to the existence of YouTube-mp3.org. On a global scale this number is much higher. Despite paying no money to the creators or owners of the music, stream ripping sites are using the high levels of traffic they generate to make money from advertising. The prominently placed advertisements on the YouTube-MP3 site, often from major brands, are estimated to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per month for the stream ripping site. YouTube-mp3.org is the largest stream-ripping site in the world with more than 60 million unique users per month. Based in Germany, the site has a global user base and provides a simple way of creating an audio file from a YouTube video.