Piracy seems to be the music industry’s hydra monster, the mythical beast with regenerating heads: every time it gets a handle on one mode of unauthorized distribution, another one pops up. This time it’s battling the rise of stream ripping, the process of turning a song or music video from a streaming service into a download.

Several record companies have come together as plaintiffs in a suit against one of the major players in stream ripping: the website Youtube-mp3.org (YTMP3). Filed in September in the United States District Court for the Central District for California, the complaint’s claims are copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, inducement of copyright infringement and circumvention of technological measures.

The record companies have authorized the use of their sound recordings for inclusion in the catalogues of several digital music services, including Apple Music, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. “Plaintiffs, their employees, their recording artists, and others in the music industry are compensated for their creative efforts and monetary investments largely from the sale and distribution of sound recordings to the public, including the authorized online sale, streaming, and distribution,” says the complaint.

The complaint further explains that YouTube has technological measures in the place that prevent downloading, copying and distribution of its content directly from the site. YTMP3 removes the audio from videos that the plaintiffs owns, converts them to MP3 format, stores them on the site, and allows users to download the files. YTMP3 is one of the most visited sites in the world and may be responsible for more than 40% of all stream ripping from YouTube. YTMP3 describes itself as “the easiest online service for converting videos to MP3” for use on any device. “Copyright infringement through stream ripping has become a major problem for plaintiffs and for the recorded music industry as a whole. From 2013 to 2015 alone, there has been a 50% increase in unauthorized stream ripping in the United States,” says the complaint. Obviously, as stream ripping grows, the music industry will suffer since consumers will likely lose their incentive to buy songs or pay for streaming services.

Shortly before the suit was filed, a study from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and Ipsos found that nearly half of Internet users between ages 16 and 24 had stream ripped music in the previous six months. It was up 41% from the year before. 30% of all Internet users admitted to stream ripping as well, an increase of 10% from the year before.

The case is UMG Recordings, Inc. et al v. PMD Technologie UG et al, 2:16-cv-07210, Central District of California.

To find out how you can protect your copyright, contact us here at The Fried Firm.