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Google threatens site that rips YouTube music videos into MP3s

Guest Evilblade

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Google has reportedly threatened legal action against a website that allegedly used the YouTube API to turn the audio from YouTube videos into downloadable MP3 files. The website denies violating YouTube's policies.

The API, or application programming interface, gives Web developers various ways of pulling YouTube features into other websites. It, of course, has a set of terms and conditions that prevents use of the API to promote copyright infringement. Given the ubiquity of big-label music videos on YouTube, it's hard to imagine that many people rip music tracks off the site without violating copyright laws.

But various sites offer the service. According to TorrentFreak, one at the address YouTube-MP3.org received a letter from YouTube legal counsel threatening "legal consequences" if the site continues to violate YouTube policies that prevent music from being downloaded, rather than streamed. On YouTube-MP3.org, users can paste a YouTube link into a form, click "convert video," and then download a newly created MP3 file, all within seconds. That might be cumbersome for many songs, but for just a few it's easy. And with the proliferation of cloud services such as iTunes Match and Google Music, users may see their newly ripped songs automatically appear on their phones and tablets.

But YouTube's letter to YouTube-MP3.org "underlines the fact that to 'separate, isolate, or modify the audio or video components of any YouTube audiovisual content made available through the YouTube API' is forbidden, as is externally storing copies of YouTube content," TorrentFreak reported. YouTube-MP3 has 1.3 million daily visitors.

For its part, YouTube-MP3 says "We never used the YouTube API to pull any videos from them." Further, the site says in a post describing its predicament that German courts have "ruled that an online recording tool is not different from any tv recorder or something comparable," and that it doesn't believe downloading audio content from YouTube is a violation.

In an e-mail to Ars, YouTube-MP3's Philip Matesanz said "We used the API the way it was allowed to be used: Getting just the video title and length of a specific video. ... There is nothing even closely infringing about it."

The YouTube terms of service are pretty clear that downloads are not allowed, saying "You shall not download any Content unless you see a 'download' or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content." The terms also include a lengthy section on copyright infringement.

The letter from YouTube to the MP3 site hasn't been published in its entirely, but was apparently shared by the YouTube-MP3 owner with TorrentFreak. The letter was dated June 8 and gave the site seven days to comply before legal action is taken. YouTube-MP3 says "Google has just blocked all of our servers from accessing YouTube so we had to disable all conversion functionality." However, the site appeared to be working properly when we tested it out today.

In a statement sent to Ars, Google said "We have always taken violations of our Terms of Service seriously, and will continue to enforce these Terms of Service against sites that violate them."

Another YouTube downloader site called TubeFire was sued by the Recording Industry Association of Japan last year, and of course Google is involved in a long-running lawsuit with Viacom over whether YouTube is exempt from liability for the copyright violations of its users. Although Google doesn't believe it should be responsible for all infringing activities of its users, the letter to YouTube-MP3 shows that Google will at least try to shut down some of the more obvious sources of infringement.

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The last post in this topic was made more than 14 days ago. Only post in this topic if you have something valuable to add. Irrelevant posts are not allowed and you will be warned/banned for spamming old topics.

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