To Combat Rampant Piracy, a U.N. Organization Launches a Global Anti-Piracy Database

So far this year, multiple piracy websites have gone down as part of a large-scale crackdown from the music industry.

Thanks to subpoenas from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), , a self-described “powerful” YouTube stream-ripper, has indefinitely closed its doors.

In a surprise agreement with the RIAA, agreed to hand over the personal information of 2,793 pirating business subscribers.  This includes the names, payment information, and addresses of business subscribers who have apparently downloaded illegal content.   has challenged the ruling – a hospital and medical care facility.

Then, teaming up with the IFPI and Music Canada, the RIAA promptly shut down notorious pirate cyberlocker .  The agreement forced the domain’s unnamed owner to write on his website,

Making available copyright-protected music on the internet without authorization from the copyright holder is illegal.  Willful, commercial scale copyright infringement could lead to a criminal conviction.  Illegal music services exploit the work of artists and pay nothing to those creating and investing in music.

Then, obtaining more subpoenas against NameCheap and Cloudflare, the industry successfully took down two music piracy websites – .

Yet, not everything has gone as well as the industry has hoped for.  Despite obtaining subpoenas, the RIAA remains locked in a fierce battle against , one of the world’s largest stream-rippers.  The powerful organization also hopes American courts will rule against Russian stream-ripper FLVTO and its sister site, 2Conv.

Now, a global organization has aided efforts to take down even more illegal websites.

Will a database help identify – and take down – suspected pirates?

Over in Australia, – led by Warner, Sony, and Universal Music – successfully won a major injunction.

Two months ago, a federal judge issued a broad ruling, demanding major Australian ISPs to block stream-rippers.

According to Music Rights Australia (MRA), forced site-blocking remains a ble anti-piracy strategy.

We use this effective and efficient no-fault remedy to block the illegal sites which undermine the many licensed online services which give music fans the music they love where, when, and how they want to hear it.

– part of the United Nations – has launched a new database.  Dubbed Building Respect for Intellectual Property (or BRIP, for short), UN Member States will promptly report “problematic sites.”  After looking at the database, advertisers may choose to block these “bad” websites.

WIPO first introduced the idea of a global anti-piracy database in 2017.

Explaining the purpose of BRIP, WIPO wrote,

The BRIP Database is now open for the acceptance of Authorized Contributors from WIPO Member States and Authorized Users from the advertising sector.

It comprises a secure, access-controlled online platform, to which authorized agencies in WIPO Member States may upload lists of websites which deliberately facilitate the infringement of copyright.

In short, WIPO hopes BRIP will cut pirate sites’ revenue.  The organization writes this will “reduce the flow of money to illegal website operators.”  In addition, brands no longer risk “tarnishment.”  Legitimate advertising also won’t appear “illegally” on websites.  This, writes WIPO, confuses consumers.

Member States will assign their own submitters who will add pirate websites to BRIP.  AGCOM, an Italian telecom regulator, and KCOPA, a Korean copyright protection agency, tested the database prior to its launch.

Concluding its statement promoting BRIP, the WIPO wrote,

The project responds to increased interest among policy-makers in methods of building respect for intellectual property which rely on voluntary cooperation, rather than on judicial or other compulsory measures.

Yet, the organization added a possibility for failure still exists.  Member States must participate to ensure BRIP’s bility.

Its success will, however, depend on the extent to which it is adopted by Member State agencies and the advertising sector.

 


Featured image by Steven Parkinson (CC by 2.0).

The Music Industry Successfully Shuts Down Convert2MP3

Looks like the music industry continues to score more victories in its fight against major music pirates.

Starting a major offensive against music piracy several months ago, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has managed to shut down popular websites.

In mid-March, for example, the major music industry organization shut down YouTubNow.  Following a single subpoena request at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the YouTube stream-ripper slowly faded away, with users unable to rip their favorite music.  The website continues to read in apologetic form, “Sorry, the site is currently under maintaining.”

Then, teaming up with the IFPI and Music Canada late last month, the RIAA large-scale cyberlocker, DBRee.  According to the IFPI, all three organizations contacted the site operator.  Repentant, the anonymous operator shut down the file-hosting service, vowing to never again infringe on “sound recordings in the future.”

Finally, popular piracy platforms Mixstep and NoFile their respective websites following similar subpoena requests last week.

The music industry Grande Communications’ “safe harbor” protections in court.

Not everything has gone as well for the music industry, however.  Earlier this year, a federal judge the RIAA an unexpected defeat against Russian stream-ripper FLVTO and its sister site, 2Conv.  In addition, Y2Mate – one of the largest stream-rippers in the world – its doors following another subpoena request.

Now, the music industry has scored another key victory against a major music pirate.

Taking down a music piracy giant.

On average, German-based stream-ripper Convert2MP3 received 684 million unique visits each year from users all over the world.  This comes out to around 57 million unique visits each month.  In contrast, Y2Mate received over 75 million unique visits last month.  Still active, it’s now the 499th most popular site in the world.

As with most stream rippers, people loved using Convert2MP3 to download their favorite music videos and tracks from YouTube.

Following the closure of YouTube-MP3, whose owner voluntarily agreed to shut the website down, the BVMI and the IFPI silently targeted Convert2MP3 in court over “large-scale and sustained violations of record labels’ copyrights.”

To avoid major legal consequences, the anonymous owner has agreed to a settlement.  In addition to handing over Convert2MP3’s credentials, the site operator has also agreed to an undisclosed financial compensation.

The IFPI wrote in an official press release,

The settlement required the global shutdown of Convert2MP3 and any other infringing sites owned by the operator.  Additionally, the site is required to hand over the Convert2MP3 domains to IFPI and give broad undertakings not to infringe copyright or circumvent technological protection measures in relation to recorded music in future.

A court in Germany had previously granted both the IFPI and the BVMI a preliminary injunction against the website.  Both music industry groups had accused the platform of owning and producing software which allowed the site to circumvent “effective technological protection measures.”

Speaking on the music pirate giant’s closure, Frances Moore, IFPI’s Chief Executive, boasted,

The successful outcome if this case sends a clear signal to other stream ripping sites that they should stop their copyright infringing activities or face legal action.

Dr. Florian Drücke, Chairman and CEO of BVMI, added,

Since the music industry has transformed into a digital business, it’s of the utmost importance that the rights of artists and their partners are protected online.  We’re seeing an increasing understanding on the part of the courts and the fans that digital licensing is crucial for the creative industries and that business cases based on free riding are unacceptable.

The IFPI also signaled it will continue to take more stream-rippers to court should they fail to heed similar warnings.

 


 

20+ Music Industry Organizations Sign the 'Anti-Stream Manipulation Code of Best Practice'

Admittedly, the music industry has a major problem – fake streams.

Three years ago, for example, Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) found Jay-Z’s music streaming service, TIDAL, about its total streaming numbers for two popular albums – Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

Despite just having under 3 million subscribers at the time, TIDAL reported that The Life of Pablo had magically achieved 250 million streams in 10 days.  Lemonade had also reached an astonishing 306 million streams in just 15 days

In a published extensive Digital Forensics report by CCIS, the newspaper found that the company manipulated the data.  CCIS first started its investigation on February 7th, 2017.

Now facing a federal investigation in Norway, TIDAL executives deny any wrongdoing, despite authorities receiving a manipulated hard drive as evidence.  An unspecified number of artists and labels their music from Jay-Z’s service.

At around the same time, reports Spotify had also gamed the industry to avoid paying top artists like Kendrick Lamar.

In a lengthy piece, Vulture’s Adam K. Raymond claimed Spotify has purposefully filled its service with fake accounts.  The Swedish streamer had yet to tackle “the coverbots and ripoff artists who vomit… inferior versions of popular songs.”  These ‘fake artists’ allegedly manufactured by the company to six-figure salaries for ripping off popular songs.

Spotify any wrongdoing, stating it wouldn’t “pay itself” for fake streams.

Yet, not everyone is convinced.

Dealing with the issue earlier this week, Louis Poen, founder of indie record label Hopeless, the real cost of fake streams for labels – $300 million a year.

One particular track, for example, earned around 3,000 streams per day.  Then, that number jumped up to 35,000 streams each day for three days straight.  Finally, it had abruptly returned to its previous numbers.

Poen explained where the fake streams came from – Spotify.

When we looked at where those streams came from, 100% of them came from six playlists on Spotify.  It couldn’t be more suspicious.  The playlists were created recently.  They gained a bunch of followers in one week.  They’ve never gained another follower since then.

Now, top organizations and major labels have declared war on platforms which readily allow this form of manipulation.

Clamping down on gaming streaming.

Top tech and music industry companies have signed a new code of conduct.  IMPALA and the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) are among the signatories of the

The signatories have agreed on 22 codes to tackle “stream manipulation.”  These include identifying dishonest manipulation and artificial creation “by human or non-human means,” and stating music streaming services and other digital platforms must play “a valuable role” in tackling fake streams.

Main topics of the code include the definition of fake streaming – now dubbed “streaming manipulation” – ways to identify legitimate versus illegitimate music consumption, practice and reasonable measures against streaming manipulation, compliance with existing national and EU laws, and the legal status of the code of conduct.

Each signatory has agreed the code of conduct will not “affect” existing private agreements with and streaming service providers.

The complete list of signatories include Amazon, the American Association of Independent Music, Artist Rights Alliance, Deezer, IMPALA, the International Artist Organization, ICMP, the International Federation of Musicians, IFPI, the Independent Music Publishers International Forum, Merlin Network, the NMPA, Recording Academy, the RIAA, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment, Spotify, Universal Music Group, and the Worldwide Independent Network.

You can view the complete code of conduct below.

 


Featured image by Spotify.

The RIAA Successfully Takes Down Two More Pirate Sites — Mixstep and NoFile

In its ongoing war against music pirate websites, the RIAA has scored major victories.

Over the past several weeks, the RIAA has managed to successfully take down numerous piracy websites.

First, in mid-March, the major music industry organization YouTubNow.  The YouTube stream-ripper had long boasted about its “powerful service.”  Yet, following a subpoena request at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, YouTubNow went the way of the dodo.

Then, teaming up with the IFPI and Music Canada, the RIAA large-scale cyberlocker, DBRee.

The IFPI explained,

DBR was responsible for large scale copyright infringement of music content.

On behalf of our member record companies, IFPI, RIAA, and Music Canada identified and contacted the site operator who has now agreed to shut down the site completely and not to infringe sound recording rights in the future.

Now, as the RIAA continues to wage war against Y2Mate and FLVTO, the organization has scored two more victories.

Adios, Mixstep and NoFile.

Following another subpoena request at the federal court in D.C., Mixstep has officially closed its doors.

Mixstep allows DJs and music producers to upload and share their own works to a large audience.  Yet, the website admittedly had a difficult time banning users who frequently posted copyrighted works on its platform.

Once again targeting Cloudflare and NameCheap, an accredited domain registrar, the RIAA has requested the personal information of Mixstep’s owner.  In sent to Cloudflare, the music organization identified a single infringing track on the website – Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s single, ‘I Don’t Care.’

Speaking with TF about the platform’s closure, Mixstep’s anonymous owner explained the site’s purpose.

We made this project for DJs and producers.  We already banned a lot of users who uploaded illegal files.

Lamenting the DMCA letter, the owner added the site hadn’t earned any money from advertising, like most pirate sites do.

I think it’s enough to fight with all these [users uploading infringing files] so we’re going to shut down our project very soon.  Anyway, Mixstep was a no-profit project.

In addition, giving in to pressure from the RIAA, NameCheap has suspended the domain of cyberlocker NoFile.

Just as in the DMCA letter to the registrar about Mixstep, the music organization ,

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.

Whether NoFile will file an appeal against NameCheap remains to be seen.

 


Featured image by Roger Gregory (CC by 2.0).

The RIAA Obtains DMCA Subpoenas Demanding the Personal Info of 14 Stream-Ripping Websites

As part of its major music piracy crackdown against YouTube stream-rippers, the RIAA has targeted a slew of new websites.

First, with just a single subpoena obtained at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the music organization YouTubNow several weeks ago.  The stream-ripper had long bragged about its “powerful service” which allowed users to find and “download your favorite YouTube videos as well as music tracks quickly, easily, and absolutely for free.”

The move came amidst a major win for the Australian music industry.

Justice Parram, a Federal Court judge, issued a broad ruling.  Siding with Sony, Warner, and Universal Music alongside the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and Music Rights Australia (MRA), Parram granted the industry the ability to demand that Telstra, Foxtel, Optus, TPG, and Vodafone – all major ISPs in the country – to “take reasonable steps” to prevent access to multiple stream-rippers across seven domain names.

Then, the RIAA attempted to quickly shut down one of the world’s largest YouTube stream-rippers – Y2Mate.

Obtaining yet another subpoena at the federal court in the District of Columbia, the American music organization sent a threatening letter to both Cloudflare and NameCheap, an accredited domain registrar.  The letter “the name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates, and account history” of Y2Mate’s owner.

Y2Mate, the 570th-most visited website in the world, receives nearly 64 million unique visits each month, mostly from the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, India, and Spain.  Yet, unlike YouTubNow, the stream-ripper’s owner – only known as ‘Muvi’ – has long prepared for a drawn-out battle with the RIAA.

Unwilling to back down, Muvi noted Y2Mate only exists to “create a copy of downloadable online-content for the private use of the user (‘fair use’).”

The stream-ripper’s copyright page also reads,

Muvi does not grant any rights to the contents, as it only acts as a technical service provider.

Going on the offensive once more against stream-ripping technology, the RIAA has obtained two new DMCA subpoenas against Cloudflare and NameCheap.

The music organization has demanded the private information of the following websites:

  • 10convert.
  • Amoyshare.
  • Anything2MP3.
  • iMP3Juices.
  • BigConverter.
  • YouTubeMP4.
  • QDownloader.
  • GenYouTube.
  • BreakTV.
  • MP3XD.
  • DL-YouTube-MP3.
  • ConvertBox.
  • DownloadersIO.
  • Hexupload.

As explained earlier, under the new subpoenas, and must both hand over the names, addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses, among other personal information, of each website’s owner.

You can view the official letter sent to Cloudflare below.

 


Featured image by Tobias Vemmenby (CC by 2.0).

The RIAA, Music Canada, and IFPI Successfully Shut Down Pirate Cyberlocker DBR

Several weeks ago, the RIAA managed to take down YouTubNow, a major YouTube stream-ripper, with just a subpoena.

Shortly after the major music organization’s court filing, the website, which boasted about its “powerful” service, .

Spinning the news, YouTubNow’s website now reads (in grammatically-incorrect English),

Sorry, the site is currently under maintaining.

Going on the offensive against stream-ripping technology, the RIAA Y2Mate earlier this week.

The popular YouTube stream-ripper receives over 64 million unique visits each month.  It currently ranks as the 570th most-visited site around the world.

According to the RIAA, though, Y2Mate offers “recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use.”

In separate letters to both Cloudflare and NameCheap, the music organization has forcibly demanded the name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates, and account history of Y2Mate’s owner.

Unfortunately, and unlike YouTubNow, the site’s owner – known only as ‘Muvi’ – has long prepared for the filing.

Not willing to back down, Muvi noted Y2Mate only exists to “create a copy of downloadable online-content for the private use of the user (‘fair use’).”

In addition, the stream-ripper’s copyright page reads,

Muvi does not grant any rights to the contents, as it only acts as a technical service provider.

While the RIAA may engage in a prolonged battle with Y2Mate – as it with FLVTO and 2Conv – the major music organization has scored yet another key victory in a different piracy front.

The music industry v. cyberlockers.

In a coordinated effort, the RIAA, the IFPI, and Music Canada have successfully managed to take down DBR.

The file-hosting service had long stored unlicensed tracks, which included pre-release material.  Users also frequently shared and leaked music through the cyberlocker.

DBR’s owner didn’t give a reason for the site’s closure.  Instead, its domain name now forwards to a message from all three major music organizations.

This site has been shut down following legal action for copyright infringement.

Making available copyright-protected music on the internet without authorization from the copyright holder is illegal.  Willful, commercial scale copyright infringement could lead to a criminal conviction.  Illegal music services exploit the work of artists and pay nothing to those creating and investing in music.”

As with YouTubNow and Y2Mate, the RIAA had requested a subpoena from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against Cloudflare.

The granted subpoena read,

We have determined that users of your system or network have infringed our member record companies’ copyrighted sound recordings.  Enclosed is a subpoena compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Like YouTubNow, DBR quickly folded its cards and preferred not to take on the music industry, shutting down its website instead.  According to a separate report, the IFPI had promptly identified and contacted the site owner, who agreed to stop the illegal activities.

DBR was responsible for large scale copyright infringement of music content.

On behalf of our member record companies, IFPI, RIAA, and Music Canada identified and contacted the site operator who has now agreed to shut down the site completely and not to infringe sound recording rights in the future.

Sources claim the website was hosted in Canada, thus the reason for Music Canada’s involvement.

 


 

Lone Business Subscriber Challenges Cox Communication's Agreement with the RIAA

Earlier this month, Cox Communications and the RIAA reached an astonishing agreement.

The internet service provider, which has suffered multiple defeats against the music industry in court – including to BMG – submitted a proposed stipulated order.

Both Cox and the RIAA – representing Sony, Warner, and Universal Music – agreed the ISP would promptly hand over the names, payment information, and addresses of business subscribers who allegedly downloaded illegal content.

Promptly signed by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, the ISP agreed to identify 2,793 business subscribers who received infringement warnings between February 1st, 2013 and November 26th, 2014.

Under the proposed order, Cox would first notify its business subscribers.  They would have the option to contest the decision.  Should they fail to do so, however, the major labels would receive their personal information.

Yet, not everyone agrees with this proposed order.  Now, one subscriber has declined to hand over their personal information to the music industry.

A lone wolf challenges Cox and the RIAA.

Dubbed ‘John Doe,’ a non-profit corporation which provides hospital and medical care facilities outside of Virginia, wrote,

Like other medical care providers, John Doe provides an unsecured, public wireless network that can be accessed by patients and other visitors who agree to abide by John Doe’s terms of use for the Public Wi-Fi network.  Cox is the internet service provider for this Public Wi-Fi network.”

The unsecured network, writes John Doe, ultimately triggered copyright infringement notifications.  Prior to logging into the free Wi-Fi, users had to agree with the medical company’s Terms of Service.

In using the System and the Services, You agree that you will not: (1) infringe any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, right of publicity or other right of any party; (2) defame, abuse, harass, stalk any individual, or disrupt or interfere with the security or use of the System or any website accessed by it; (3) interfere with or damage the System, including, without limitation, through the use of viruses, cancel bots, Trojan horses, harmful code, flood pings, denial of service attacks, packet or IP spoofing; forged routing or electronic mail address information, or similar methods or technology…

The medical company admits users may have downloaded copyrighted files.  Yet, as it doesn’t track MAC addresses of individual users, ‘John Doe’ can’t identify individual people nor devices.  Thus, the company argues it shouldn’t have to share its business details with major labels.

Thus, disclosure of John Doe’s subscriber information will not lead to the discovery of the individual(s) who are alleged by Plaintiffs to have engaged in copyright infringement through the misuse of John Doe’s network in violation of the access agreement.

In addition, should Cox and the RIAA ignore this request, the proposed stipulated order would breach the corporation’s legal rights.

All disclosure will accomplish is a breach of John Doe’s privacy rights under the Cable Communications Privacy Act, 47 USC § 551, and the imposition of time and expense burdens on John Doe, all without furthering any claim or defense in this case.

The court will now decide whether to provide John Doe’s information to the RIAA.  As previously explained, it remains unclear whether the RIAA plans to take all 2,793 Cox business subscribers to court.

You can view below.

 


 

RIAA Demands NameCheap and Cloudflare Hand Over Personal Information of Y2Mate's Owner

Two weeks ago, the RIAA successfully took down a major YouTube stream-ripper with just a subpoena.

According to YouTubNow’s webpage, the stream-ripper users to quickly and easily download their favorite music.

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.

Boasting about its ‘powerful’ service, the stream-ripper added it remained an “excellent YouTube to MP3 downloader, as it makes any soundtrack a separate audio file tailored especially for you.”

Not exactly something the RIAA enjoys hearing.  So, after filing a subpoena request at a federal court in Columbia, the major music organization would’ve forced NameCheap, an accredited domain registrar, to hand over YouTubNow’s personal information.

A letter sent to NameCheap read,

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.

To avoid costly litigation against the RIAA, YouTubNow has gone offline.  The main page now shows the following grammatically-incorrect notice,

Sorry, the site is currently under maintaining.

Now, after taking down YouTubNow, the RIAA has targeted yet another major YouTube stream-ripper.

Can the RIAA successfully take down Y2Mate?

Several months ago, and in a surprising move, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief defending notorious stream-ripping sites, FLVTO and sister site, 2Conv.

Defending the use of stream-ripping technology, the EFF ,

Like a web browser, photocopy machine, or video recorder, the converters at issue in this case are neutral technologies, equally capable of lawful and infringing uses.

Lambasting the music industry’s heavy-handed legal tactics against these websites, the EFF outright slammed the RIAA.

Their practice is to file suit against foreign-owned websites, with default the most likely outcome.  Then, as part of a default judgment, they request broad injunctions that purport to bind a host of intermediary companies, enlisting them to disable or block the website.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped the major music organization from taking on even more websites it deems “unlawful.”

Case in point.  The RIAA has once again obtained subpoenas against NameCheap and Cloudflare.  Obtained at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the organization has targeted Y2Mate.  Ranked 570 worldwide, the stream-ripper had nearly 64 million unique visits last month, mostly from the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, India, and Spain.  According to the RIAA, Y2Mate is “offering recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use.”

In to Cloudflare, the music organization lists three infringing URLs for copyrighted tracks.  These include Heart’s ‘Never,’ Exposé’s ‘Let Me Be The One,’ and Jane Child’s ‘Don’t Wanna Fall In Love.’

The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to [Y2Mate] who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.”

In to NameCheap, the RIAA has forcibly demanded “the name, physical address, IP address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates, and account history” of Y2Mate’s owner.

Yet, the music organization will likely have a difficult time obtaining this information.

Readily defending itself, the site’s owner – known only as ‘Muvi’ – noted the stream-ripper only exists to “create a copy of downloadable online-content for the private use of the user (‘fair use’).”

Its copyright page reads,

Muvi does not grant any rights to the contents, as it only acts as a technical service provider.

You can view both letters below.

 


 

As the Australian Music Industry Successfully Bans Stream-Rippers, the RIAA Takes Down YouTubNow

Several weeks ago, and in a highly controversial move, a federal court granted the RIAA subpoenas to de-anonymize Cloudflare clients.

The subpoenas grant the music organization the authority to force the company to hand over contact information for a number of clients.  This includes full names, IP addresses, personal e-mail addresses, and all other identifying information of those involved in copyright infringement activities.

Now, the RIAA has obtained a brand-new subpoena.  This time, against a notorious YouTube stream-ripper.  And, the move appears to have worked.

The RIAA defeats YouTubNow with just a subpoena.

According to YouTubNow’s webpage, the stream-ripper allows users to quickly and easily download their favorite music.

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.

Proudly boasting about its ‘powerful’ service, the stream-ripper adds it remains an “excellent YouTube to MP3 downloader, as it makes any soundtrack a separate audio file tailored especially for you.”

Not exactly something the RIAA wants to hear.

To force the accredited domain registrar to hand over YouTubNow’s personal information, the RIAA filed a subpoena request against NameCheap at a federal court in Columbia.

A letter sent to the registrar reads,

We believe your service is hosting [YouTubNow] on its network.

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.

The RIAA had only listed three infringing URLs – Gloria Estefan’s ‘Falling In Love (Uh-Oh),’ Robert Palmer’s ‘I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On,’ and Nu Schooz’s ‘I Can’t Wait.’

The letter continues,

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.

Yet, it remains unclear whether NameCheap will successfully hand over YouTubNow’s owner information to the music organization.  After all, the stream-ripping service doesn’t technically offer music to users.  The stream-ripper also denies any responsibility for what users do in its site.

A warning on its page reads,

YouTubNow is a free online service that backs up YouTube content for further personal use and storage.  The service doesn’t take any responsibility for copyright infringement caused by separate users.

The subpoena has successfully worked, though, as YouTubNow has since gone down.  Its owner may have quickly shut down its service to avoid legal confrontations with the RIAA.

The music industry v. stream-ripping.

The RIAA’s war against stream-ripping, however, seems limited only to the US.

So far, the major music organization remains in an increasingly bitter legal battle with Russian stream-ripper FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com.  Its war against Cloudflare and NameCheap only lists a handful of direct MP3 download sites and a few YouTube to MP3 stream-ripping services.

Yet, the music organization’s battle against these services underscores the global effort to shut down all stream-rippers by any means necessary.  Even if that includes outright forcing ISPs to block users’ internet access.

In Australia, for example, Federal Court judge Justice Parram has recently issued a broad ruling.  Siding with Sony, Warner, and Universal Music alongside the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and Music Rights Australia (MRA), Parram has granted the music industry desperately-needed court orders demanding local ISPs outright ban stream-ripping sites.  Targets include FLV2MP3, 2Conv, Convert2MP3, and FLVTO.

The federal judge has granted the industry the ability to demand Telstra, Foxtel, Optus, TPG, and Vodafone “take reasonable steps” to prevent access to multiple stream-rippers across seven domain names.

An MRA spokesperson had previously explained site-blocking has proven an “effective” strategy against music piracy.

These no-fault injunctions are used to block the worst of the illegal sites which undermine the local and international music industry.

We use this effective and efficient no-fault remedy to block the illegal sites which undermine the many licensed online services which give music fans the music they love where, when, and how they want to hear it.”

Yet, the global music industry still has a long way to go.  As previously seen with the death and subsequent ‘rise’ of major torrenting websites, the industry may ultimately engage in a losing game of whack-a-mole with stream-ripping services.

 


Featured image by Descrier (CC by 2.0).

The RIAA Contends It Doesn't Have to Travel to a Foreign Country to Sue Stream-Rippers in the U.S.

Late last summer, the music industry – led by the RIAA – filed a lawsuit against FLVTO.biz, 2conv.com, and their owner, Tofig Kurbanov.

Observers had expected the RIAA – which represents Warner, Sony, and Universal Music – to easily win the lawsuit.  The win would establish a serious legal precedent against YouTube stream-rippers in the United States and worldwide, allowing the music industry to quickly – and legally – take down any and all stream-ripping websites.

Bad news for the RIAA and the American music industry – that simply didn’t happen.

Earlier this year, Eastern District Court of Virginia Judge Claude M. Hilton ruled the major music organization lacked personal jurisdiction against Kurbanov.

In addition, Judge Hilton’s decision bars the case from being heard not only in Virginia, but in any other U.S. jurisdiction.  This includes the RIAA’s home state of California.

The music industry didn’t exactly respond well to the unexpected high-profile defeat.

Slamming Judge Hilton’s decision, the RIAA wrote in an appeal,

The district court’s decision gives carte blanche to Internet pirates to set up shop outside of the United States, safe in the knowledge that they are effectively immune from the reach of U.S. courts seeking to vindicate the rights of U.S. plaintiffs for violations of U.S. copyright law, even as they cater to U.S. users.

In a statement conceding that the case will likely drag on, Cara Duckworth, the RIAA’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing, admitted that the legal battle will likely continue into early May 2020.

Despite the high-profile appeal, Kurbanov and his legal team vowed to continue the increasingly-bitter legal fight into the very end.

If they prevail, we would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Then, in a surprising move that could very well tip the case, the Electronic Frontier Foundation Foundation (EFF) sided in with FLVTO.biz.

In an amicus brief, the EFF stream-rippers remain a neutral technology.  In addition, they have numerous “legal uses.”

Like a web browser, photocopy machine, or video recorder, the converters at issue in this case are neutral technologies, equally capable of lawful and infringing uses.

The EFF then accused the RIAA of knowingly employing heavy-handed tactics that abuse the legal system.  Like unrepentant bullies, major labels – and the RIAA – file lawsuits against foreign site operators who can’t legally defend themselves.

Their practice is to file suit against foreign-owned websites, with default the most likely outcome.  Then, as part of a default judgment, they request broad injunctions that purport to bind a host of intermediary companies, enlisting them to disable or block the website.

Calling this move legally problematic, the digital rights organization says these filings often go challenged.

Through this process, difficult questions about the scope of such injunctions go unanswered.

In addition, stream-rippers remain merely “semi-interactive,” and don’t engage in infringement.  In fact, Judge Hilton correctly ruled no evidence exists showing users exchange multiple files between sites.

Users don’t need to create an account, sign in, or even register in order to use the websites.

The EFF remains the only organization to support FLVTO and Kurbanov.  The RIAA has rallied support through amicus briefs from the MPAA, The Association of American Publishers, and the Copyright Alliance.

Now, the RIAA and major labels have issued a new filing, once again slamming Judge Hilton’s ruling.

“Nope.  We don’t have to travel to Russia or any other country to get our way.” – The RIAA.

In his initial ruling tossing the music industry’s case, Judge Hilton found FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com didn’t specifically target internet users in Virginia or in any part of the United States.  Thus, as explained earlier, the RIAA doesn’t have any personal jurisdiction to take on Kurbanov and his two stream-ripping websites.

That apparently doesn’t matter to the organization.

In a reply to Kurbanov’s legal team filings, the RIAA FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com knew exactly where all of its users are located.  Millions of people, especially those in the United States, continue to rip streams of copyrighted music.

Appellee knows down to the person the geographic location of the 32 million U.S. users and more than half-a-million Virginian users who visited the Flvto.biz and 2conv.com websites in 2018.  Those users engaged in almost one hundred million stream-ripping sessions.

Indeed, the United States is appellee’s third largest market globally, both by [the] number of users and number of stream-ripping sessions conducted.

Kurbanov and his legal team have argued he outsourced ads to third-party advertising brokers. Ye, the labels disagree, stating he knowingly hired these brokers, and thus, remains legally responsible.

Moreover, appellee earns huge revenues from the advertisements his U.S. users view while conducting their stream-ripping sessions — advertisements specifically targeted to users’ geographic location in the U.S. because of the geotargeting technology that appellee uses.  Appellee knows full well this geo-targeting is occurring.

So, as Kurbanov cited “various contacts” with the U.S., music labels don’t have to travel to Russia to sue the website owner.

In short, nothing in the Constitution requires that U.S. copyright holders travel to Rostov-on-Don, Russia to sue for violations of U.S. law that occur in the United States and that generate huge profits for appellee from ads targeted at U.S. users.

The RIAA and the music industry therefore conclude,

The decision of the district court should be reversed.

It remains to be seen how Kurbanov and his legal team will respond.

You can view the legal filing below.

 


Featured image by ArtBrom (CC by 2.0).

Electronic Frontier Foundation Files Amicus Curiae In Favor of FLVTO.Biz

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has joined the fight against the music industry.

The major labels currently have a major problem on their hands.

Following the RIAA’s failure to successfully sue notorious Russian stream-ripper FLVTO.biz and its owner, Tofig Kurbanov, the labels must now find a way to convince an appeals court to revive the case in the U.S.

The case first started in August 2018, when the Big 3 – Warner, Sony, and Universal Music – filed their initial lawsuit against Kurbanov.  The RIAA spearheaded the lawsuit on behalf of the clients.

Industry observers had expected the industry to coast through the lawsuit, setting up a strong legal precedent.  Stream-rippers would no longer successfully operate in the U.S., and, eventually, in any part of the known world.

Unfortunately for the RIAA, that didn’t happen.

In , FLVTO.biz and Kurbanov defeated the RIAA in court.

Eastern District Court of Virginia Judge Claude M. Hilton had ruled that the major music organization simply lacked personal jurisdiction against the Russian stream-ripper’s owner.

Judge Hilton’s decision also barred the case from being heard not only in Virginia, but in any other U.S. jurisdiction.  In addition, Hilton ruled that stream-rippers aren’t generally interactive.  Thus, the RIAA can’t label FLVTO’s user interaction as “commercial.”

That didn’t make the RIAA, nor other sectors of the music industry, too happy.

So, two months ago, the Big 3 labels – led once again by the RIAA – filed a notice of appeal through its contracted legal team, Jenner & Block.

This time, to successfully take on Kurbanov, the RIAA has now assigned at least four Jenner attorneys to the case – Ian Heath Gershengorn, Ishan K. Bhabha, Alison I. Stein, and Jonathan A. Langlinais.  And, that’s on top of the organization’s own staff and attorneys leading the appeals action.

Outright slamming Judge Hilton’s decision, the RIAA claims Hilton merely gave a “carte blanche” to internet pirates.  The judge was also accused of granting infringers immunity from “the reach of U.S. courts,” even though pirates violate U.S. law.

The RIAA had filed its appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Now, as the appeals case heats up, Kurbanov and FLVTO.biz have received support from an unexpected ally.

The EFF calls out the RIAA for bullying foreign site operators.

Late last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the stream-ripper.

According to the digital rights organization, stream-rippers remain a neutral technology.  They have numerous “legal uses.”

Like a web browser, photocopy machine, or video recorder, the converters at issue in this case are neutral technologies, equally capable of lawful and infringing uses.

Lawful uses include saving a copy of a family member’s home video as well as downloading TV show clips to provide critical commentary.

The EFF further accused the RIAA of employing heavy-handed tactics that abuse the legal system. Like bullies, major labels – and the RIAA – file lawsuits against foreign site operators who can’t legally defend themselves.

Their practice is to file suit against foreign-owned websites, with default the most likely outcome.  Then, as part of a default judgment, they request broad injunctions that purport to bind a host of intermediary companies, enlisting them to disable or block the website.

Calling this move legally problematic, the digital rights organization says these filings often go challenged.

Through this process, difficult questions about the scope of such injunctions go unanswered.”

Defending the initial decision, the EFF stated Judge Hilton’s ruling serves as a “safeguard” against the RIAA’s future legal tactics.

As the district court correctly held, neither the sale of advertising space that is customized by a third party based on the viewer’s location, nor the presence of ordinary “Terms of Use” on a website, show purposeful engagement with a forum state.

In addition, stream-rippers remain merely “semi-interactive,” and don’t engage in infringement.  In fact, Judge Hilton correctly ruled no evidence exists showing users exchange multiple files between sites.

Users don’t need to create an account, sign in, or even register in order to use the websites.

The EFF remains the only organization to support FLVTO and Kurbanov.  The RIAA has rallied support through amicus briefs from the MPAA, The Association of American Publishers, and the Copyright Alliance.

You can view the EFF’s amicus brief below.

 


FLVTO.biz Issues Fiery Response Brief Against the RIAA's Court Appeal

At the beginning of this year, and in a shock ruling, notorious Russian stream-ripper FLVTO.biz the music industry – led by the RIAA – in a U.S. federal courtroom.

Industry observers had expected the RIAA – which represents Warner, Sony, and Universal Music – to coast through the lawsuit, thus establishing a serious legal precedent against YouTube stream-rippers in the United States.

That simply didn’t happen.

Instead, Eastern District Court of Virginia Judge Claude M. Hilton ruled that the major music organization simply lacked personal jurisdiction against FLVTO.

Judge Hilton’s decision bars the case from being heard not only in Virginia, but in any other U.S. jurisdiction.

Praising the ruling, attorney Val Gurvits of Boston Law Group, PC, said,

We are thrilled to report that the Court today dismissed this action for lack of jurisdiction.

As expected, the music industry the decision.

Two months ago, the Big 3 labels – led once again by the RIAA – filed a notice of appeal.  Jenner & Block, the organization’s contracted legal team, had filed the appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In short, the music industry called Judge Hilton’s ruling “an error.”

The music industry had first filed its lawsuit against Tofig Kurbanov, owner of Russian-based sites FLVTO and 2conv.com, in August 2018.

Slamming the appeal, Gurvits wrote to Digital Music News,

A very smart judge spent a lot of time considering the facts and the law and concluded that there was absolutely no reason why the court could exercise jurisdiction over Mr. Kurbanov.

“There is no reason to think that a panel of three smart judges will see it any differently.”

To successfully take on Kurbanov, the RIAA has now assigned at least four attorneys to the case – Ian Heath Gershengorn, Ishan K. Bhabha, Alison I. Stein, and Jonathan A. Langlinais.  That’s on top of the organization’s own staff and attorneys leading the appeals action.

Lambasting Judge Hilton’s ruling, the RIAA’s appeal reads,

The district court’s decision gives carte blanche to Internet pirates to set up shop outside of the United States, safe in the knowledge that they are effectively immune from the reach of U.S. courts seeking to vindicate the rights of U.S. plaintiffs for violations of U.S. copyright law, even as they cater to U.S. users.

In a statement conceding the case will likely drag on, Cara Duckworth, the music organization’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing, admitted the legal battle will likely continue into early May 2020.

Yet, Kurbanov and his legal team vowed to continue the fight into the very end.

If they prevail, we would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Now, digging down deep, FLVTO.biz has issued a new counter statement.

FLVTO.biz v. the entire music industry.

In , Kurbanov and his legal team – Valentin Gurvits (Boston Law Group, PC), Matthew Shayefar (Law Office of Matthew Shayefar, PC), and Evan Fray-Witzer (Ciampa Fray-Witzer, LLP) – have issued three statements of issues on the appeal.

First, the lower court properly ruled it lacked personal jurisdiction against Kurbanov, a Russian citizen and resident.  He has never visited the United States.  In addition, his websites remain freely available to users around the world – not just the U.S.

Second, the appeals court must uphold the lower court’s dismissal.  It remains constitutionally unreasonable to exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign alien.

Third, the lower court had properly denied jurisdictional discovery.  The plaintiffs (i.e., the RIAA) had only requested discovery without presenting evidence or an argument on why said discovery was useful.  In addition, the RIAA conceded such discovery wasn’t actually necessary in a footnote.

The law firms also issued two arguments.

First, the Fourth Circuit Court has already made clear the burden remains on plaintiffs to prove personal jurisdiction “by a preponderance of the evidence.”

The RIAA has simply failed to make said evidence available.  After all, the major organization forfeited jurisdictional discovery in the initial case in a footnote.

Second, Judge Hilton had properly dismissed the music industry’s complaint about a lack of personal jurisdiction against Kurbanov.

The website owner doesn’t have sufficient ‘minimum contacts’ in the United States.  The minimum contacts test places the burden on the RIAA to demonstrate Kurbanov purposefully directed his activities solely to users in the U.S.

In addition, the organization would also have required to prove the industry’s ‘cause of action’ – i.e., the initial lawsuit – arose out of these activities.

Simply put, the RIAA has failed to do so.  So, the appeals court must affirm Judge Hilton’s ruling.  Holding personal jurisdiction over Kurbanov doesn’t remain constitutionally permissible in Virginia nor in any part of the United States.

You can view the entire response brief below.

 


Featured image by TheMalt (CC by 2.0).

Fresh Off a Major Victory, the Music Industry Sues Charter Communications

How many extra ISPs will the music trade sue?

Multiple ISPs within the United States are at present embroiled in lawsuits introduced on by the music trade.

Cox Communications, for instance, for a tough courtroom battle in opposition to main labels in Virginia.

The ISP hasn’t had a good time there.  At the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal decide primarily stripped the ISP of copyright immunities earlier this 12 months.  Cox later acquired the order to pay BMG $25 million.  A federal decide just lately denied the ISP’s request to alter the courtroom venue to its dwelling district of Georgia.

Grande Communications hasn’t fared a lot better.  Represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), main labels – together with Sony Music, Warner, and Universal – have an enormous victory.  A Justice of the Peace decide stripped the Texas-based ISP of its protected harbor protection, guaranteeing the RIAA a win.

Now, contemporary off the heels of that victory, the music trade has taken Charter Communications to courtroom.

Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Corp., Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Corp., amongst many different music corporations, have filed a 27-page criticism in a Colorado federal courtroom.  They accuse the ISP of contributing to and taking advantage of the “large copyright infringement” of its subscribers.

Thousands of Charter’s subscribers have willfully downloaded, copied, and distributed copyrighted music via BitTorrent in addition to different providers.  This has brought about “nice hurt” to labels, artists, and songwriters.

Charter, which does enterprise as Spectrum, has outright refused to work with labels to resolve this drawback.  Instead, the labels declare the ISP has chosen “to prioritize its personal earnings over its authorized obligations.”  This contains not coping with a whole bunch of hundreds of statutory infringement notices from the music trade.

Thus, say the labels, Charter has willingly operated its web service as “a gorgeous software and protected haven for infringement.”

Indeed, for years, Charter intentionally refused to take affordable measures to curb customers from utilizing its web providers to infringe on different copyrights, together with plaintiffs’ copyrights — even after Charter turned conscious of specific clients partaking in particular, repeated acts of infringement.

The labels added it’s “well-established legislation” Charter has willfully ignored pirating on its service.

Despite its professed dedication to taking motion in opposition to repeat offenders, Charter routinely thumbed its nostril at [the labels] by persevering with to supply service to subscribers it knew to be serially infringing copyrighted sound recordings and musical compositions.

Because of this, Charter has attracted, retained, and charged infringing customers increased charges.

The document corporations have requested for unspecified damages for infringement between March 2013 and May 2016.

You can view the lawsuit beneath.

 


Featured picture by Manuel Strehl (CC by three.zero).

Siding with the RIAA, a Texan Federal Judge Strips Away Grande Communications' Safe Harbor Defense

According to a senior federal choose, Grande Communications did even lower than Cox in refusing to take away repeat copyright infringers.

Last summer season, represented by the RIAA, main labels – together with Sony Music, Warner, and Universal – towards Texas ISP Grande Communications.

The ISP has round 160,000 clients throughout the state.  According to the music group, Grande has repeatedly did not cope with copyright infringers by disconnecting them.

The RIAA claims that, due to this, Grande ought to not qualify for the secure harbor provision.  Simply put, the ISP hasn’t complied with quite a few written requests to take away repeat infringers.  The secure harbor provision granted below the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) solely applies when an web service supplier addresses the problem in ‘a well timed method.’  Thus, federal courts ought to instantly take away Grande’s secure harbor safety standing.

Last October, the RIAA a significant authorized setback.

After reviewing the proof, Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin wrote a suggestion to disclaim the RIAA’s movement.

The… allegations nonetheless fail to say something concerning the motivations of Grande’s subscribers once they join with Grande.  That is, plaintiffs nonetheless fail to plead details displaying Grande gained or misplaced clients due to its failure to terminate infringers.

The music group didn’t surrender.  Filing an amended criticism, the RIAA submitted new proof proving Grande hadn’t terminated repeat infringers.

Now, a federal choose has sided with the music group.

Grande loses its secure harbor provisions.

Last December, analyzing the RIAA’s proof, and regardless of discovering the ISP had an current coverage to cope with repeat infringers, Judge Austin recommended Grande lose its secure harbor standing.

[The ISP] affirmatively determined in 2010 that it could not implement the coverage in any respect, and that it could not terminate any buyer’s account no matter what number of notices of infringement that buyer accrued.

The Justice of the Peace choose wrote a “moderately carried out termination coverage requires” implementation, not simply adoption.

Because the proof is undisputed that Grande by no means enforced its coverage through the related time interval, it’s precluded from elevating the DMCA secure harbor protection on this case.”

Ruling on Judge Austin’s suggestion, Senior US District Court Judge David Ezra sided with the music trade.  Grande Communications not has the best to a secure harbor protection.

In this case, the proof is evident that from a minimum of 2011 till 2016 Grande had no inside coverage or procedures by any means to implement their forward-facing assertion that they’d terminate clients for repeat infringements.”

The ISP, continued Judge Ezra, had terminated subscribers previous to October 2010.  Reviewing inside e-mails, a Grande worker acknowledged,

We have customers who’re racking up DMCA takedown requests and no course of for treatment in place.

Agreeing with Judge Austin, the Texan senior choose added,

Moreover, to be eligible for the DMCA secure harbor, an ISP should ‘moderately implement’ a termination coverage, not simply undertake one.

In reality, Grande “did even lower than Cox [Communications] to ‘moderately implement’ a coverage required for DMCA safety.

The ISP had beforehand tried to have the case dismissed.

Citing Rightscorp, a infamous copyright troll, Grande claimed the RIAA’s claims had critical flaws.  Judge Ezra, nonetheless, dismissed these claims.

Even if the Court had been to just accept Grande’s arguments associated to the Rightscorp notices, the abstract judgment proof exhibits that Grande did not terminate a single buyer regardless of the receipt of a number of hundred thousand different copyright infringement notices.

You can view Judge Ezra’s ruling under.

 


Featured picture within the Public Domain.

Quavo Celebrates "Quavo Huncho" Going Gold

Though one may need questioned whether or not the Migos may thrive as singular entities, it could seem that the reply is a powerful sure. Back in October, Quavo dropped f debut solo album Quavo Huncho, full with some bizarrely mystical album art work. The album, which featured appearances from Drake, Travis Scott, Offset, Takef, 21 Savage, Saweetie, Lil Baby, Cardi B, and extra, has ficially hit Gold standing after mere months life. An spectacular feat to make certain, particularly on condition that Huncho featured a couple of notable singles, however nothing overwhelmingly ubiquitous. 

“M Y F I R S T P R O J E C T! ! !” writes Quavo, within the accompanying caption. “Means Rather a lot Thank Y’all.” Despite a rising narrative suggesting a Migos-oversaturation types, the model stays sturdy. It stands to motive that the upcoming Culture III will seemingly profit from the group’s momentum, likewise for Offset’s debut, each time it could floor. As for Takef’s The Last Rocket, it would not be stunning to see the slept-on rapper’s solo debut observe in Quavo’s footsteps, although it could take a bit of longer.

Do you suppose Quavo Huncho has sufficient juice to hit platinum? Sound f beneath.