The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and other lobbying bodies that represent the global record industry are suing the website YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3) in the US for allegedly facilitating millions of dollars of copyright infringement.
In mid-September, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) published research showing that when it comes to online piracy, ripping music directly from streaming services has become far more popular than illegally downloading entire albums that have been ripped and uploaded by an individual.
The research showed that stream ripping is rife particularly from YouTube because it is now the world's biggest music platform, and because the music videos are freely available thanks to the service's free ad-supported business model, it is incredibly easy for people to rip video streams and download their favourite music as mp3 files, rather than paying for it legally.
The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in Los Angeles, says that YTMP3 is one of the most visited websites in the world, "has tens of millions of users, and is responsible for upwards of 40% of all unlawful stream ripping of music from YouTube in the world", because the service makes it so easy for consumers to quickly convert videos into mp3 files, even on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
YTMP3 accused of making money while facilitating infringement
The copyright holders are also angry that the YTMP3 website, which has been around since 2010, also allegedly makes money while enabling copyright infringement, because it is a member of Google's AdSense and DoubleClick programmes, so the website can profit from third party targeted advertising that users click on while on the website.
The plaintiffs are looking to get YTMP3 blocked in the US as they say research shows there are 57 million users in the country who are ripping music illegally from streaming services. The US has the most number of people that use YTMP3 and the service is alleged to be seriously impacting the business operations of several of the plaintiffs, who are also based in the country.
According to the lawsuit, the YTMP3 website is owned by Philip Matesanz, who is based in Germany and solely owns and operates a limited liability company called PMD Technologie UG.
The plaintiffs are asking for $150,000 (£115,000) in damages for every single piece of work that has been infringed – which could run into the millions if the defendant is found to be guilty at trial – as well as compensation for their legal fees. They claim to have proof that copyrighted music they own has been processed on the website and turned into mp3 files.
YTMP3 has yet to respond to the claims.