C’mon, Google. It wasn’t terribly long ago that you were fighting the good fight against the proposed (and now, fortunately, defeated) SOPA legislation, which was preposterously broad in its supposed enforcement of copyright laws. Now you’re putting your digital foot down against people who convert the audio from YouTube videos into Mp3s? Isn’t the generally horrendous audio quality of these YouTube videos punishment enough?
According to the initial report by TorrentFreak, Google is threatening legal action against at least two YouTube conversion sites — YouTube-Mp3 and Music-Clips.net — if they don’t cease the functionality that, in Google’s words, “allows users to download content from YouTube.” In a letter to both services, Google cites YouTube’s Terms of Service, which prohibits the “downloading of any video from the site that is not accompanied by a ‘download’ link.” Similarly, they claim a violation of YouTube’s API Terms of Service, which prohibits applications that “separate, isolate, or modify the audio or video components of any YouTube audiovisual content made available through the YouTube API.” API, by the way, stands for “application programming interface,” and YouTube’s version of this allows web developers to utilize certain YouTube features, so long as they comply with the associated Terms of Service.
Are conversion sites like YouTube-Mp3 and Music-Clips.net examples of de facto noncompliance? The owner of the former, “Philip,” alleges that they don’t use the API, but instead access videos by other means. Surely there’s room for cordial negotiation then, right? Wrong. According to “Philip,” Google has now blocked their servers from accessing YouTube, forcing them to “disable all conversion functionality.”
Star Wars analogy: it’s not unreasonable to suggest a Palpatine/pre-Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker relationship unfolding here between the RIAA and Google. In a report issued last December, the music organization made their parental dissatisfaction with Google painfully clear. Read the following in a whiny voice to get the full effect:
Increasingly, music-oriented videos posted on YouTube include links to download the sound recording associated with the video illegally. This is in violation of YouTube’s own policies. In addition, YouTube hosts videos explaining how to “game” the Content ID system and how to rip the audio content to create an MP3 file from a music video…
While professing to agree that copyright infringement is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, Google raises alarmist, self-serving criticism to any legislative proposal to deter or thwart rampant copyright infringement. Google should stop engaging in destructive rhetoric and come to the table with constructive proposals to address this problem.”
Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi.