The music industry views stream-ripping as one of the largest piracy threats, worse than torrent sites or direct download portals.
In 2016, the RIAA, IFPI, and BPI filed legal action against YouTube-MP3, the largest stream ripping site at the time. This case eventually resulted in a settlement in which the site agreed to shut down voluntarily.
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This was a clear victory for the music industry, which swiftly moved on to its next targets. This included Convert2MP3, which was sued in Germany with backing from the music groups IFPI and BVMI.
With dozens of millions of monthly visitors, Convert2MP3 is one of the largest stream-rippers on the Internet. Thus far, its legal battle in Germany has mostly remained under the radar, but today it becomes clear that it has far-reaching consequences.
Music group IFPI just announced that in a combined effort with the German industry group BVMI, it has reached a settlement with the stream-ripping site. The settlement requires the site to shut down immediately and hand over its domain name to IFPI.
The settlement agreement further requires the operator to pay financial compensation but the actual amount is not mentioned.
The agreement comes after a German court issued a preliminary injunction against Convert2MP3. The court concluded that the site circumvented technological protection measures, using software it owned or produced.
IFPI’s Chief Executive Frances Moore is pleased with the outcome and hopes that it will motivate other stream-rippers to follow suit.
“Stream ripping is a threat to the entire music ecosystem. Sites such as Convert2MP3 show complete disregard for the rights of artists and record companies and take money away from those creating and investing in music.
“The successful outcome if this case sends a clear signal to other stream ripping sites that they should stop their copyright infringing activities or face legal action,” Moore adds.
Not everyone agrees that these type of sites are by definition copyright-infringing. In a letter to the US Trade Representative, digital rights group EFF previously stressed that there are plenty of legal use cases as well.
“[M]any audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe,” EFF wrote.
That said, the music industry is determined to keep challenging these sites. There is an ongoing court case against FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com in the US, and in Denmark and Australia stream-rippers including Convert2MP3 are blocked by court order.
The latter blockades are less useful now that Convert2MP3 has agreed to shut down. The domain currently displays a message from the music industry groups and the site’s Facebook and Twitter profiles have been removed.