In what appears to be a new target for music labels, TubeFire, a website that allows users to download YouTube videos, has been sued in Japan by the four majors, Universal, EMI, Sony, Warner, and 25 other labels.
TubeFire operates in the same way as dozens of other 'YouTube downloader' websites, in that it extracts the raw video stream from YouTube videos, and then packages it in a downloadable format, like FLV or MP4. Not only are there websites, there are also extension and add-ons for browsers that do exactly the same. These services have existed for many years without attracting any legal attention, as a lot of these services are nothing more than URL rewriting.
But TubeFire may have been targeted to be made an example of in this test case, where the music labels are concerned people are downloading music videos and songs from officially uploaded YouTube clips, even though in most cases, the audio quality is not comparable to freely available pirated MP3s.
The labels are suing TubeFire for $3 million in damages and also the closure of the website. TubeFire has temporarily suspended their service as a precaution.
It is unknown if the music labels, represented by the RIAA in the United States, plans to file similar lawsuits against websites and software publishers offering similar services.
Do you think it should be illegal to download streaming content, even if it's just a URL rewrite and no DRM has been broken in the process? Post your opinion in this news article's comments section, or in this forum thread: