The music industry buried the biggest YouTube to MP3 ‘stream-ripper’ in September. But in a recently-published report, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) outlined 7 reasons why YouTube converters aren’t inherently illegal.
1. Simply converting a file from video to audio (or any other format) isn’t automatically a copyright violation.
What if the video isn’t a copyrighted work? “There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stated.
2. Even if some users abuse a YouTube to MP3 site to infringe copyright, that doesn’t make the site illegal.
“Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe,” the EFF continued.
3. Running ads on a site doesn’t automatically make that site illegal.
“Such a website does not become “illegal” by earning revenue through advertising,” the EFF noted.
4. YouTube to MP3 sites become illegal only if the site owners take additional actions beyond conversions.
“Other activities may give rise to copyright liability, such as distributing infringing copies of video and audio recordings to third parties,” the EFF states. “But many of the sites identified by RIAA are not clearly involved in such activities.”
5. YouTube to MP3 converters aren’t illegal just because the music industry doesn’t like them.
“The United States Trade Representative (USTR) must apply U.S. law as it is. Not as particular industry organizations wish it to be,” the EFF continued.
6. Declaring YouTube to MP3 converters as illegal will harm US trade.
“Accordingly, it is inappropriate to describe ‘stream-ripping’ sites as engaging in or facilitating infringement. That logic would discourage U.S. firms from providing many forms of useful, lawful technology that processes or interacts with copyrighted work in digital form, to the detriment of U.S. trade.”
7. Violating YouTube’s terms of service doesn’t make something illegal.
YouTube to Mp3 converters expressly violate YouTube’s published terms of service. But that’s an issue between YouTube and the converter, not a violation of US Copyright Law, according to the EFF.
So what’s next?
After destroying youtube-mp3.org in court, the RIAA is undoubtedly preparing its next major lawsuit. But the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is accusing the three major labels of exploiting the legal system to shut down legal YouTube to MP3 ‘stream-rippers’.
Now, the Google-backed group may step into this legal arena.
The EFF’s statement came in response to piracy declaration by the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA. That group represents the ‘big three’ major labels: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment.
Specifically, the retort came in response to the RIAA’s accusations against numerous YouTube to MP3 sites. The group listed a group of ‘most notorious’ stream-rippers with the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).
“RIAA’s discussion of ‘stream-ripping’ websites misstates copyright law,” the EFF declared.
“Websites that simply allow users to extract the audio track from a user-selected online video are not ‘illegal sites’ and are not liable for copyright infringement, unless they engage in additional conduct that meets the definition of infringement.”
You can find the EFF’s complete response here.