Blog Post

Google moves to snuff sites that rip music from YouTube videos

In a move that suggests Google is coming to see itself as a content owner, the company is threatening legal action against a site that lets users strip audio from YouTube videos and play them as stand-alone clips.

According to TorrentFreak, Google (s goog) is blocking from accessing YouTube and warning that it is forbidden to modify YouTube clips or store external copies of them.

The site is reportedly very popular with young people who use it to load up their phones with songs they find on YouTube. Here is a shot from the site’s homepage that shows how users can just plug in a YouTube URL and receive the audio portion (the site shows a shoe video but one suspects music videos are more typical) :

I confess that I hadn’t heard of YouTube-MP3 but my colleague Robert Andrews says there are several plugins for the Firefox and Chrome browsers which do the same job. The sites rely on a tool offered by Google that permits web developers to embed and access part of YouTube’s backend.

In an echo of the Napster debates of a decade ago, the owner of YouTube-MP3 told TorrentFreak that Google is wrong to criminalize the 200 million people who it says use the service.

Google’s aggressive action against YouTube-MP3 is intriguing because the company is taking on the role of copyright cop, a role it usually leaves to third party content providers (Google is invoking a breach of YouTube’s terms of service, rather than copyright infringement, but the end result is the same).

The company’s move against YouTube-Mp3 comes at the same time that it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on partnerships to create new YouTube channels that will offer original programming. Google may thus be seeking to protect its investment and reassure its partners that it can control the new distribution environment. Or the dispute may signal a more permanent shift in which Google begins to adopt the outlook of a copyright owner.

[Image by VladimirB via Shutterstock]

16 Responses to “Google moves to snuff sites that rip music from YouTube videos”

  1. this is interesting. The thing that bothers me is what about the songs that aren’t sold on Itunes?

    Sometimes DJ’s, post their remixes on Youtube but for some reason don’t put their work on Itunes, and if you ask for a copy, they may suggest ripping it off their youtube vid with one of the online rippers.

    And like the people below me, what about the videos that are ripped from the tube?

    “Protecting Uploaders”- Fat. They’re acting like they own everything on there. It should be up to the user whether or not their stuff can be ripped from their own video. And what if it goes into users having to pay for videos that they rip?

    Lets be honest- who the heck is going to pay .99 cents to download a 30 second cat video, when they can rip it for free and watch it just fine?

    Those uploaders will still make money regardless of a user ripping their vid, simply because whenever their page is viewed (whenever you go to see their videos of course) you see the ads. They get money based on the traffic on their site. I don’t think the sky will fall from their pockets just because someone ripped a vid from their channel after viewing it at their leisure.

    Not saying its right or wrong.. But these are all instances where I think this whole copyright mumbojumbo is more grey, then just black and white.

  2. David Kesterson

    This is one side of a story is what this is. There are hundreds of ways to locally store Youtube videos in various formats. Google isn’t cutting it’s own throat here or anything. This sotry is biased and non inclusive of all the facts, if there are even any facts in any of it to begin with.

  3. Tim Hyland

    Could the interpretation be different? Maybe Google/YouTube is simply protecting their clients — the users who produce content. These content-producing users (bedroom singers and record labels both, to be clear) are YouTube’s bread and butter. Rev share from ads on these videos keeps YouTube running.

    Seems to me, YouTube is simply looking to protect their sources of content, not acting like a content owner.

    Full disclosure, I was employed by YouTube/Google from 2007-2009. I have no vested interest in the company, but do have insight into the thinking that goes on behind closed doors.

    • Thanks for the insider’s insight, Tim. I wonder, though, whether “protecting sources of content” and “acting like a content owner” are that different. And is Google’s thinking being shaped not only by the revenue share from ads, but also by the hundreds of millions it is investing in new content channels?

      In the past, Google/YouTube sought a more passive role based on staying DMCA-compliant. It feels like there’s a shift afoot (but again, that’s just speculation on my part).

  4. That’s not a shoe video. It’s a shoe ad — you enter the link of the video you want to rip in the box above it. No video ever plays on the site.

  5. I find it very very funny, both on the part of Google and the sorry guys and girls going through these motions. The sound quality must be apalling. Their ears must have been shattered already if they cannot appreciate a good original any longer.

  6. icesnakefrostfyre

    “Do no evil?” Ahem.
    Freemake Video Converter will download the whole video to many formats, including MP3. Might be hard to stop that.

  7. th3ophilos

    (Google is invoking a breach of YouTube’s terms of service, rather than copyright infringement, but the end result is the same)

    Thank you for clarifying this.
    I appreciate the presentation of the details as well as a personal interpertation.

    Thanks for the article Sir!

  8. Revolution Video

    There are free sites where users can buy music or attain music legally. Hopefully more sites like those will pop up and that will lessen illegal downloads; though, Google seems to be taking matters into their own hands.