Are ‘YouTube to MP3’ Downloaders Illegal to Use?
If you've been listening to dance music in the last decade, there's probably a pretty good chance that you've downloaded an exclusive tune with a 'YouTube to Mp3" converter. But are they legal? Brett Newski from Digital Music News with the detailsThis article originally appeared on Digital Music News
Please note: the following article deals primarily with US-based copyright law, specifically as it relates to ‘youtube to mp3’ and stream-ripping sites. We also briefly discuss German copyright law, and will be expanding the scope of this piece to include other countries soon.
Here are some important issues to keep in mind.
(1) YouTube itself is 100% legal to use.
You can’t commit piracy or violate a copyright by streaming anything — at any time — on YouTube. You are completely safe here. But is it legal to then convert YouTube videos into downloads, to be viewed later? That remains an incredibly confusing question.
(2) YouTube says ‘stream-ripping’ is a violation of their Terms of Service. But so far, no users have been sued or arrested for this.
Several years ago, Google and YouTube threatened to shut down the largest youtube to mp3 converter, YouTube-mp3.org. They argued that the site was in direct violation to YouTube’s Terms of Service, which says you cannot create a system to capture a video stream.
Interestingly, YouTube never prosecuted youtube-mp3.org, though they claim they blocked it from their ad network. Fast-forward to 2016, and youtube to mp3.org is still a top Google search result. And according to a recent music industry lawsuit, still runs Google-powered ads.
So it looks like Google really doesn’t care. But should you?
(3) It IS illegal for users to convert copyrighted music videos into downloads. But again, no users have been sued or arrested for this.
Again, it is completely legal to watch any video you want on YouTube, or VEVO. But, if that video is copyrighted (which most music videos are), then it’s illegal to create a personal download of that video. That includes an mp3, mp4, or any other download file type.
At this stage, we haven’t heard of one person getting sued or even contacted by the major recording labels for copyright violation. Maybe that’s next, though the Recording Industry Association of America (or, RIAA) is currently focusing all of its energies on suing YouTube-mp3.org.