Google Threatens To Sue YouTube-to-MP3-Ripping Sites

Google Threatens To Sue YouTube-to-MP3-Ripping Sites

Bad news for those people who are habituated to rip YouTube music videos to MP3s through and similar sites. According to an exclusive report of TorrentFreak - Google are threatening action against one of the web’s largest YouTube conversion sites. The site, which according to Google’s own stats is pulling in 1.3 million visitors every day, extracts MP3 audio from YouTube videos and makes it available for users to download. Google’s lawyers say this must stop, and have given the site seven days to comply. 
Over the years, YouTube has struck deals with record labels such as Warner Music Group and Universal to host music videos on the site. Although the music is always free, most videos have links to buy the songs on iTunes, Google Play and AmazonMP3. The video is supposed to be promotional, but conversion sites provide a way to take the music with you at no charge -- a practice that surely riles copyright holders.
What YouTube-MP3 does is straightforward. At one end a user feeds the site with a YouTube URL and after a couple of minutes the site spits out a standalone MP3 file, perfect for ripping the audio from pop videos.
Needless to say these sites are hugely popular, particularly with the younger generation. But aside from that emotional appeal, websites that provide Youtube-to-MP3 conversion don't have a strong argument to stand on. YouTube's API terms of service forbid users from extracting individual elements from a video -- such as the audio component -- and from making any part of the video available for download. Conversion sites clearly violate those terms or service.
In an open letter, “Philip” from argues that Google, which owns YouTube, is being hypocritical, noting that the company scanned out-of-print books into digital form without permission, and shows news snippets from online publications on Google News at no cost, even as some publishers demand payment. Likewise, Philip argues that his site is bending the rules to serve the needs of users. It's not clear why YouTube is taking action now, since these sites have been around for a while. But what we can guess is that copyright holders are pushing YouTube to crack down as the site tries to secure more professional content. Even if YouTube swats down some sites, others will surely crop up, and standalone conversion tools will remain available. But for those rights holders, at least it looks like Google's doing something.


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