YouTube-to-MP3 Site Gives in to Music Labels’ Copyright Lawsuit

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Major music labels have won a settlement to shut down a website that allows users to extract audio from a YouTube video link, a function known as “stream ripping,” according to a Sept. 1 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

In the filing, Philip Matesanz, operator of the website, agreed to a judgment in favor of the music companies on all counts, a permanent injunction barring him from stream-ripping, and handing over the YouTube-mp3 website to the plaintiffs ( UMG Recordings, Inc. v. PMD Technologie UG , C.D. Cal., No. 16-7210, stipulation for entry of final judgment and permanent injunction 9/1/17 ).

In September 2016, UMG Recordings Inc., Warner Bros. Records Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, and related music industry entities sued Matesanz and his company PMD Technologie UG over the YouTube-mp3.org website, which allows users to enter a YouTube video link and extract the audio file. Matesanz was a computer science student in Germany when he created what became one of the most visited websites in the world.

The music labels said that the site attracted “tens of million of users” accounting for “upward of 40% of all unlawful stream ripping of music from YouTube in the world.”

This means that one of the internet’s most popular sites for converting YouTube videos to music files will no longer be available to users. But that doesn’t prevent copycat services from popping up.

The terms of the settlement were undisclosed.

Undisclosed Sum to Be Paid

YouTube-mp3’s popularity makes this a big win for the music industry, Leslie Jose Zigel, an entertainment lawyer at Greenspoon Marder PA, Miami, told Bloomberg BNA.

“I think that that’s a very very big deal given what you’re seeing out there,” Zigel, who worked for the now-defunct Bertelsmann Music Group during the Napster era, said. Matesanz “was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, basically on the backs of the artists and the labels. It’s very easy for the company to make money when the company is getting the product for free and is stealing all of it,” he said.

The parties asked the court to approve the settlement awarding the music labels judgment on all their claims, including direct copyright infringement, inducing users to commit infringement, vicarious infringement, contributory infringement, and circumvention of technological protection measures.

The proposed order requests a permanent injunction that bars Matesanz and his company from creating or assisting any stream-ripping service. It also directs Matesanz to hand over his youtube-mp3.org domain name and pay an undisclosed sum of money. The filing said that if Matesanz fails to surrender the domain name the music labels can go directly to the domain name registrar to demand transfer.

Sidley Austin LLP represented the record labels. Liner LLP represented Matesanz. The parties didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg BNA request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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