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Youtube-MP3 Fires Back @ Google's Legal Threat

The service is called YouTube MP3, and as the name indicates, it allows end-users to make a private recording of videos publicly broadcasted by YouTube. The description already screams copyright infringement, but the author behind the tool, 21-year-old applied computer science student Philip Matesanz, compares it to taping music from the radio using a cassette.

As reported back in June, Google started going after services that allowed users to record and/or download YouTube videos, some of which rips the audio tracks into a separate file. In this case, Google sent a cease and desist letter to Matesanz saying that the use of YouTube's API -- which provides web developers with access to certain YouTube features -- to download video is against Google's Terms of Service.

"The API Terms of Service prohibit applications that 'separate, isolate, or modify the audio or video components of any YouTube audiovisual content made available through the YouTube API,' as well as applications that 'store copies of YouTube audiovisual content.' Continuing to violate these restrictions may result in legal consequences for you and/or your company," Google said in its letter (PDF).

YouTube-mp3 was given seven days to comply.

According to a press release distributed on Thursday, Matesanz has refused to close the service, and is currently considering his options. Matesanz said he has tried several times to enter into a dialogue with Google, but so far without success, as an attempt to speak with the General Counsel of Google Germany was denied.

"To defend himself he has publicly released legal case studies in an attempt to prove that the claims Google has made so far are wrong," Matesanz's company PMD Technologies reports. "He has also started a public petition on which has been signed by more than 300.000 people so far. Despite this Google continue to be unwilling to enter into a dialogue with Philip."

In a situation update posted on Wednesday, Matesanz said this was a "David and Goliath" situation, calling himself "just an IT guy with no experience whatsoever" when it comes to brushing up against a Google-like entity. However he presents his legal case with the help of two "highly reputable" lawyers in homeland Germany. They reportedly agree that there are no copyrights of a third party violated by providing this service, and it has to be considered legal.

"They also agree that all claims Google has brought up so far are not justified: There is no TOS violation," he reports. "They even question if Google can take action against so called "YouTube Converters/Recorders" since they seem to be protected by federal law. Google would have to make massive changes to their public broadcasting service to demand that such services shut down e.g. no more embedded videos, restrict access to registered users who have agreed to the TOS."

He said that according to federal law, users have the unquestionable right to create a private copy of certain media including YouTube. Google's attempt to abrogate the rights of the public in their TOS has to be considered as illegal and is in a strong contrast to their public self-representation.

The two reports backing up the legality of the YouTube tool can be accessed in PDF format here (10 MB) and here (1 MB). Matesanz also points out that Google just updated the YouTube app for Android which essentially does the same thing: download and store videos onto the device.

Read Matesanz's full argument against Google here. There's also a petition to allow 3rd-party YouTube recording tools located on located here.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • sylar365
    "As reported back in June, Google started going after services that allowed users to record and/or download YouTube videos"

    Like Adobe Soundbooth and the "Stereo Mix" recording input on my PC? Good luck with that, Google.
  • Kami3k
    sylar365"As reported back in June, Google started going after services that allowed users to record and/or download YouTube videos"Like Adobe Soundbooth and the "Stereo Mix" recording input on my PC? Good luck with that, Google.
    Surprised you are capable of using them if you thought that is what they meant...
  • amuffin
    Do what you want, ‘cause a pirate is free,
    Yar har, fiddle di dee,
    Being a pirate is alright to be,
    Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free,
    You are a pirate!
  • JamesSneed
    I think he has a valid point. Now if Google would just be less evil.
  • sylar365
    amuffinDo what you want, ‘cause a pirate is free,YOU ARE A PIRATE!Yar har, fiddle di dee,Being a pirate is alright to be,Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free,You are a pirate!
    Surprised you could write that comment since you have no reading comprehension or deductive reasoning skills. Of course Adobe Soundbooth isn't exactly what the article was referring to. It is just the simplest form of all the programs that someone else wrote that require less "clicks" to do the same thing. And of course most people (like you) need a program that they can get from that is basically a script written to do exactly was I was talking about. Yes, I know about those and have also seen Nyan Cat. (derp) You aren't schooling anyone here so go find someone more defenseless to be a jerk to. The point was that all these programs are doing is recording what your computer is already playing legally, whether at 1x speed or faster through the cache.
  • kinggraves
    So what is Google claiming, that people are recording copyrighted material off their embedded content? Does that mean that Google admits to knowingly hosting copyrighted content, some of which they themselves do not have a right to host considering they do not control user uploads? Or are they just upset at their new pay service content being copied? I don't think Google thought this one through.

    Well, whatever. Hey guys, there's dozens of video hosting sites around that offer you download buttons, what are you still using Youtube for? It's become a wasteland. The partner system created a bunch of money grubbing cliques so it's more about being popular rather than being creative or entertaining. On top of that now that they HAVE licensed content they've become concerned about download tools that have been around since the beginning. I guess when it's a common person making videos copying isn't a problem, but when it's Viacom's content, suddenly taking other people's content is an issue.

    All the original content creators that actually care about their audience left Youtube. Maybe the audience should too. It's not a place where joe smith can download interesting videos or programs anymore, it's a money making machine. Google's another dog of the media industry trying to pretend they're one of the cool kids still.
  • 11796pcs
    jamessneedI think he has a valid point. Now if Google would just be less evil.I thought Google's informal motto was "Don't be evil", oh I forgot that's just some crap they throw out there so that people will ignore that they're data mining the hell out of all of us. To the article at hand, all of this just shows how greedy Google is. They just want everyone to go to their site every time someone wants to listen to a song and give them advertising revenues. All of this isn't really even about copyright because Google has nothing to gain from helping the record labels (except maybe more stuff on the Google Play store). It's all about Google getting more money. Realize people that Google is an advertising company first and a search site out to help the world second.
  • whimseh
    How is Google evil, lol? It's very illegal and this stupid mp3 service should be shut down and its creator thrown in prison.
  • nigelren
    Perhaps Google should issue them with 'take down' notices and then Youtube-mp3 can publish stats on their web site saying how bad these oppressive governments/companies are for trying to deny their freedom of speech.
    Google just thinks it's above it's own standards as well as everyone elses!
  • thezooloomaster
    This story about the MP3 ripping site actually got me to find a Firefox addon to do just that. Now I can listen to all those cool songs in the car, yay!