Piracy used to be file-sharing. Now it’s stream-ripping.

It baffles me that people will pay $5 for a latte at Starbucks every day and yet cheap out when it comes to music. For ten dollars a month–about 33 cents a day–you can have a subscription to a streaming music service like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Napster, Deezer or any number of other companies and have 24/7 instant access to 40 million songs, whenever and wherever you are.

And the madness is even greater when you learn how many people are into “stream-ripping,” the practice of recording a stream played from, say, Spotify or YouTube using a website or program and downloading the resulting files into a permanent library on a hard drive somewhere. It’s like when we used to tape songs off the radio but much, much worse.

Why would anyone go to this much trouble? Like I said, it’s baffling. And stream-ripping is apparently on the rise.

The Notorious Markets List from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, an office that tracks the trade in counterfeit and stolen goods, says that this is a growing problem.

Though circumstances exist where stream ripping could be lawful, such as if the content were licensed for that purpose and the conversion were permitted under the legitimate service’s terms of use, the operations of many unauthorized stream ripping sites reportedly continue to contribute overwhelmingly to copyright infringement.

The report makes for some interesting reading. Dopefile.pk is a Bulgarian- and Pakistani-operated site that acts as a cyberlocker for stolen copyrighted material, including music.  If you’ve ever ripped the audio from a YouTube video, you may have used Convert2MP3.net. MP3va.com is based in either Russia or Ukraine and traffics in song, many of which were stream-ripped.

Meanwhile, Libgen.io is an example of a site that has pirated all my wife’s romance novels, offering the books by the hundreds of thousands of copies for free. Damn, you wouldn’t want to pay that $2.99 for the Kindle edition, huh? It took her TWO YEARS to write those books. Because of pricks like this, her last semi-annual royalty cheque was $156.

Canada doesn’t get off scot-free. As the report points out “One advertising network based in Canada, WWWPromoter, is reportedly the fastest growing ad network among infringing sites and provides services to notorious markets listed below, including primewire.ag and 123movies.to.”

Bottom line? Don’t be an asshole. Pay for your music. And your books.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Piracy used to be file-sharing. Now it’s stream-ripping.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.