The newest piracy battleground for record labels is “stream ripping,” the practice of using readily available software to download the audio from any YouTube video and turn it into an MP3 that can be shared.
This has been going on for years. I remember speaking to a 17-year-old several years ago and she admitted that most of her MP3 library came from YouTube rips. When I asked about the audio quality–it’s nowhere near good as a CD rip or an iTunes download–she just shrugged. “It’s fine,” she said. (She also admitted that listening to music through her laptop speakers was “good enough.”)
Besides avoiding paying for music, stream ripping does have its attractions. There are many, many songs I’d like to have that for whatever reason aren’t available on iTunes, on CD or vinyl or through a streaming music company. Yet someone somewhere performed what they consider to be a public service by posting an otherwise lost song on YouTube. (No, this still doesn’t make the ripping of the song right or legal, but it’s a pretty cool option for desperate music hunters.)
Last week, in a move reminiscent of the days when labels played a game of Whack-A-Mole with P2P sites, the three major labels sued YouTube-MP3.org, a German-based company that offers ripping software. They, however, are not the only people in this game. Here are a few more rippers:
- YouTube Mp3
- YouTube in MP3
I’m sure I’m missing a few. All of the above should probably expect a call from some lawyers. Learn more about the situation at Digital Music News.