RIAA Obtains Subpoena to Unmask YouTube-Ripping Site Operator
Stream-ripping tools have become a big deal for the music industry over the past several years.
Instead of having to revisit platforms like YouTube, Spotify or Deezer, users of ripping tools or sites are able to download content to their own machines. The labels argue this deprives artists and indeed platforms of revenue while breaching music licensing conditions.
Perhaps the biggest problem is presented by sites that allow people to rip content from YouTube, whether that’s video or audio, or audio alone. While this can be for legitimate purposes, millions use stream-ripping platforms to obtain copyrighted content for free.
One such site is YouTube-ripping service YouTubNow.com. According to SimilarWeb stats, the site currently receives around 15 million visits per month, with the highest share of its visitors hailing from the U.S.
“YouTubNow is a powerful service that allows you to find and download your favorite YouTube videos as well as music tracks quickly, easily and absolutely for free,” the site’s promo material reads.
“It’s an excellent YouTube to MP3 downloader as it makes any soundtrack a separate audio file tailored especially for you!”
This clearly isn’t something the RIAA appreciates. The music industry group targeted YouTubNow last week via a DMCA subpoena directed at the site’s domain name registrar, NameCheap.
In common with a similar process aimed at file-hosting platform NoFile and first reported here on TF, the RIAA filed its request at a federal court in Columbia, demanding that NameCheap hands over the personal details of its client. The Court was happy to oblige.
“We believe your service is hosting [YouTubNow.com] on its network,” a subsequent RIAA letter to NameCheap reads.
“The website associated with this domain name offers files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use, including without limitation those referenced at the URL below.”
It isn’t clear whether the RIAA has already filed any DMCA takedown notices with YouTubNow via the email address published on the site. Nevertheless, from the ‘copyright notice’ published on the site itself, YouTubNow claims no responsibility for what users do with the service.
From the wording of the letter sent to NameCheap and the subpoena itself, the RIAA appears more concerned about the entire YouTubNow service, rather than just a few seemingly random URLs.
“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the individual assigned to this website who has induced the infringement of, and has directly engaged in the infringement of, our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the RIAA writes.
In addition to demanding the operator’s name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, email address, payment information, account updates and account history, the RIAA suggests a termination of the service’s domain might also be in order.
“We also ask that you consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the site operator(s)’ conduct, and whether the site(s)’ activities violate your terms of service and/or your company’s repeat infringer policy,” the RIAA writes.
This is at least the third DMCA subpoena the RIAA has obtained against allegedly-infringing sites in recent weeks. TF previously reported that the group is targeting several ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare and file-hosting platform NoFile.
A copy of the RIAA’s letter, obtained by TF, is available here (pdf)