Digital Legal

Google blocks audio-ripping service

By | Published on Thursday 21 June 2012


The people behind a website that enables users to grab the soundtrack of a YouTube video as an MP3 have confirmed that their service is on hold because of action taken by the Google-owned video site.

YouTube-mp3 says Google has stopped its servers from accessing YouTube, after issuing the company with a cease and desist on copyright grounds. They added that the web giant threatened to sue if YouTube-mp3 didn’t stop enabling others to download audio content that featured in videos streaming on the YouTube platform.

The YouTube ripping service’s spokesman, known simply as Philip, hit out at Google, arguing that audio-ripping YouTube videos was legal in some territories. Of course the legalities of providing a service like this are somewhat complicated in most jurisdictions, though precedent in the US and many European countries would suggest that, if the service was being primarily used to access copyright material without permission, and if YouTube-mp3 did not introduce measures to curb such use, then it could be held liable for copyright infringement.

Philip also accused Google of hypocrisy, noting that the web giant itself has been accused in the past of copying or digitising copyright material without permission, via its search, content sharing and Google Books ventures, though the web firm would likely say that, in the main, it operates well within American copyright law (albeit sometimes only after litigation clarifies its exact obligations).

It’s not entirely clear why Google has chosen to act against YouTube-mp3 now, nor whether it’s because the web firm sees such services as potential rivals or because of pressure put on it by the rights owners which licence video content to YouTube, including the music firms. A spokesman told The Register: “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”.

It’s also not clear whether Google’s new resolve on audio-ripping sites will result in similar cease and desist actions against YouTube-mp3’s competitors, though The Inquirer has noted that one rival,, has recently gone offline.