A coalition of music studios and interest groups have joined forces to sue a site that allows users to rip the audio from YouTube music videos.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the British Recorded Music Industry and music labels including Sony, Atlantic and Warner Bros have sued YouTube ripping site YouTube-mp3.org (YTMP3), claiming the site is "raking in millions" by "engaging in and facilitating the unlawful infringement".
YTMP3 allows users to enter the URL of a YouTube video, and the site then extracts, converts and stores the audio track for the user to download. Unlike some stream ripping sites which simply allows the user to download the source video file directly from YouTube (which the user has to perform additional processing on in order to extract just the audio), YTMP3 offers the additional feature of extracting only the audio, and converting it directly to the MP3 format.
It's this conversion process, and the fact that the download takes place on YTMP3's own server, that the music groups have taken offence to and why they are now claiming the maximum $150,000 in damages per infringement allowed by US copyright law. It is estimated that 60 million users use YTMP3 every month - times that by at least $150,000, and this could be, at least on paper, one of the largest copyright lawsuits on record.
The lawsuit names Philip Matesanz, a German citizen, as the operator of the site, and is asking for damages as well as the closure of the site.