Do stream-ripping sites violate copyright law?

It was only a short time ago when a New York music fan could borrow a friend's vinyl record and make a cassette tape of the music. In addition to not having to pay to purchase the album, copying the music to a tape made it portable since it was not feasible to carry around one's turntable. The music industry and recording artists complained about this as a violations of copyright law, but they may have had no idea of what technology would allow fans to do in the future.

Now, the Recording Industry Association of America is battling stream-ripping websites that allow music fans to download to MP3 format the audio portion of a licensed music video from YouTube. RIAA recently petitioned the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider taking legislative action to shut down these stream-ripping sites, such as YouTube-MP3, Convert2mp3 and 2conv. RIAA believes such sites are damaging the recording industry because when fans rip songs for free, artists do not receive royalties from the sales of their copyrighted music.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation disagrees and sent its rebuttal to the USTR. EFF says RIAA is distorting copyright law, and that such sites are not illegal just because they provide a stream-ripping service. Often, says EFF, consumers use these sites fairly, such as when artists upload songs and encourage fans to modify their work. Additionally, there are more and more videos that are licensed for free downloads, which stream-ripping sites facilitate.

While the USTR will certainly consider both sides of the argument, there is no question that music pirating continues. Many New York artists lose money when others unfairly violate copyright law. When this happens, artists have every right to pursue legal recourse by consulting an attorney.

Source: torrentfreak.com, "MP3 Stream Rippers Are Not Illegal Sites, EFF Tells US Government", Ernesto, Oct. 21, 2017

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