While many might not bat an eye at ripping a song or favourite audio track from Youtube using one of the many conversion sites, browser add-ons or applications, Google has spoken out about the practice, in particular targeting Youtube-mp3.org with a warning.
Claiming that these sort of websites break the Youtube Terms of Service, Google has also blocked all YoutubeMP3 servers from accessing the streaming site's API. Attempting to use the service at the moment brings up a short message about ongoing maintenance and that user's should try again soon. It's believed that this could be the first of many legal warning shots fired across the bow of Youtube download sites, though it seems unlikely with their proliferation that Google would be able to target all of them.
When it comes to discussions on piracy, Google is often left absent, despite the fact that it fulfills the same role – albeit somewhat unspecialised – of torrent and download link sites. A simple search for a popular movie, or a TV show with a specific naming format, will bring up a whole host of download links. Presumably organisations like the MPAA and RIAA wouldn't like to take the fight to Google due to its sheer size and industry weight. That said, as a Google property, Youtube has always been very copyright owner friendly, automatically tagging videos that use unlicensed songs, as well as removing almost anything it is requested to – far above and beyond what current laws require the site to do.
Because of this, the motivation behind Google's targeting is suspect. It could be under pressure from copyright lobby groups to further protect advertising revenue on the site. It could also be looking to protect its own interests – itself receiving a large chunk of said ad. income. The other option, perhaps the smarter one, would be if Google planned to develop its own sponsored ripping service. Considering the millions of users that make use of such sites and applications, the “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em” mentality would make a lot of sense – especially if you remove the competition before hand.
TorrentFreak has it that the owners of Youtube-MP3.org have attempted to reach out to Google for discussion on the matter, but there has yet to be a response.
Kitguru says: With the sheer number of Youtube download sites and the far more generic video ripping applications and add-ons for browsers having a large following, Google will be fighting an uphill struggle if it really attempts to stamp out the practice. If blocks against sites like the PirateBay have shown us anything, it's that users will find a way – and attempting to stop them, just makes them more determined.