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YouTube MP3 Converter Loses Court Battle But The Music Plays On

One of the world’s largest sites dedicated to converting YouTube videos to downloadable MP3s has lost a court battle with representatives from the music industry. YouTube-MP3, a site that was also threatened by Google in 2012, agreed to cease and desist from its current mode of operation after it was revealed it was not only ripping music from YouTube, but also archiving the MP3s for future download. Despite the loss, the site remains online – legally.

youtubeIn addition to obtaining music from file-sharing networks, those looking for free tracks often get them from so-called tube-rippers, sites and services that transform YouTube videos into downloadable MP3s.

These tools are available in several formats including desktop packages, apps for mobile devices, and more commonly browser-based tools. In mid-2012 YouTube owners Google, believed to be under pressure from the music industry, started to make life more difficult for web-based YouTube converters and some cases issued threats to sue.

While some sites decided to shut down, many others continued business as usual, including the German site YouTube-MP3, one of the largest YouTube ripping services around with around 30 million visits per month. The site has long insisted that it has a right to provide ripping services but having fought off Google it recently found itself up against fresh adversaries.

Three music companies under the umbrella of industry group BVMI challenged YouTube-MP3′s assertion that it operates legally and sued it in the Hamburg District Court. The companies said that while YouTube-MP3 claimed to be offering only a rip-and-download service, there were serious technical issues behind the scenes that rendered the site in breach of copyright law.

YouTube-MP3 claimed that users of its service could enter the URL of a YouTube video and have the site convert and churn out an MP3 for download. Apparently, however, that wasn’t always the way it worked. Once a video had been converted to MP3, that audio was stored on YouTube-MP3′s servers. If another user subsequently entered the same YouTube URL, no conversion or ripping was carried out. They were simply handed a copy of the previously stored MP3 for download.

YouTube-MP3
 

In a statement sent to TorrentFreak, BVMI said that this was a clear breach of copyright law.

“Contrary  to  the  common  assumption  that  YouTubeMP3  is  a streamripper that allows users to record songs from the Internet (much as cassette recorders were used to record  music from the radio  back in the day),  in fact the online converter often simply made the pieces  available  for download  without a license,” BVMI said.

BVMI said that by the time the case had arrived in court last month the owner of YouTube-MP3 had already signed cease and desist declarations and agreed to refrain from reproducing and distributing copyright content.

“The current case provides deep insights into the workings of so-called  ‘recording services’ and exposes a trick that not only hoodwinks the rights owners but also misleads the users of these  services,” said BVMI Managing Director Dr Florian Drücke.

“Under the guise of private copying [YouTube-MP3] deceives people into thinking  that everything  is above-board, even though  the user  –  unwittingly  –  avails himself of an  illegal download platform. We have for some time pointed out that the vague  definition  of  ‘private copies’  encourages  cat-and-mouse games  in matters of streamripping, so  a clarification  at the political level is needed here.”

With the signing of the declarations the Hamburg District Court considered the case closed but ordered YouTube-MP3 to pay everyone’s costs.

TorrentFreak contacted the site’s owner for a comment but as yet we’ve received no response. Presumably life at YouTube-MP3 will continue, but without storing converted MP3s for subsequent download. The end result, of course, is that users of the site will still get ripped MP3s just as they did before, a point not lost on BVMI.

“One  thing  is  clear:  this  platform,  as  well  as  most  other streamripper sites,  generate considerable advertising income that is not shared with the artists or their partners.  This has nothing to do with fairness, nor does it fit with our current digital age, when many music sites – some of them free – can be used perfectly legally on the Internet,” BVMI conclude.

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Posted by plates55 - October 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Categories: Piracy   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Google rejects music industry request to remove Pirate Bay homepage

google-pirate-bay-removal_si

 

The Pirate Bay has long been a thorn in the side of copyright holders, but when Britain’s record industry trade association asked Google to remove the notorious file-sharing site from its homepage, the search engine refused to comply.

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) has helped spearhead  efforts to reduce the visibility of piracy, having sent Google  more than 30 million requests to remove copyright offenders over  the past year, Torrent Freak reports.

The BPI, which comprises the big three record companies (Warner  Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music  Group), hundreds of independents representing thousands of labels  as well as associated manufactures and distributors, is every bit  the stake holder in the anti-piracy crusade as the Recording  Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the US, albeit less  well-known stateside.

Last week, the BPI sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)  notice containing over 2,000 URLs which allegedly infringe the US  law criminalizing production and dissemination of technology,  devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control  access to copyrighted works.

The most prominent site mentioned in the request was the prolific  peer-to-peer file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, which has long  been in the crosshairs of copyright holders.

 

Google, however, refused to comply with the BPI’s request, making  The Pirate Bay homepage the only URL in the entire notice where  no proscriptive action was taken.

The catch is that while search results on The Pirate Bay provides  links to hundreds of thousands of infringing titles, its own  homepage in fact provides no links to pirated content.

This means that while The Pirate Bay’s search results pages may  not show up in the Google index, the site’s homepage meets these  standards, and should not be excluded.

Google responded to the BPI request to take down thepiratebay.sx  with a resounding “No Action Taken.”

Google offered the following response

 

Number of URLs specified in this copyright removal request  that we did not remove because we did not find the specified  copyright infringement; we already reviewed the URLs in a  previous request; or the URLs were malformed or otherwise led to  an error.”

While Google might be accused of being soft on piracy, they did  in fact take down the other 29 unique domains on the BPI request,  which spans 2,055 URLS.

 

However, the RIAA had previously been unimpressed by the search  giant’s efforts, giving it a less than stellar assessment in a  February 2013 ‘Report Card on Google’s demotion of Pirate Sites.’

“On August 10, 2012, Google announced that it would take into  account in its search result rankings the number of valid  copyright removal notices it has received for a given site. Per  its announcement, “sites with high numbers of removal notices may  appear lower” in its search results. The result of the change  should be to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of  content more easily.” Six months later, we have found no evidence  that Google’s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting  sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently  appear at the top of Google’s search results for popular songs or  artists.”

Torrent Freak notes that this is not the first time The Pirate  Bay has been targeted with a takedown request. Four years ago the  popular P2P site was taken down briefly after Google received a  DMCA complaint, although it was quickly reinstated.

The popular blog further noted the overall number of DMCA  requests has been on the rise over the last several months, with  the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) taking aim at  streaming portals with this method.
Google has thus far been unwilling to comply with many such  requests.

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Posted by plates55 - September 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Categories: Google   Tags: , , , , , , ,

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