Does Downloading and Converting YouTube Video's to Mp3 Constitute an Infringement?October 26th, 2013
Today, YouTube is the most popular video sharing website, and the third most popular Internet website. If that doesn’t speak for itself, the staggering statistics do – YouTube notches up a total number of 1 billion streamed videos per day. And not all of them are funny home videos or amateurs displaying their singing prowess.
Of all the content streamed daily on YouTube, around 60% of it is copyrighted material, which business organizations have given to YouTube to be streamed only. But as the adage goes, there is no stopping rapidly advancing technology. YouTube does not under any circumstances allow users to download streaming videos. But when did a customary rule ever stop anyone? With the availability of high end technology in our hands, now, downloading a video from YouTube is quite easy. But it does not stop there.
So maybe you have heard the latest catchy number on TV, and want to download it off the Internet, but the only place where you find the track is on YouTube. But you don’t want the video file, you just want the MP3. What do you do? Download the whole video instead? No. There are many websites on the Internet that give you full freedom to simply convert a YouTube video to MP3 format and download it.
These websites – essentially tools – are available in plenty on the Internet, and they are similar to the tools used to convert Internet radio into MP3 files, or even Pandora files to MP3. While these sites are very user friendly, there remains a big question that everyone puzzles over. Does converting and downloading YouTube video to MP3 constitute copyright violation and infringement?
We may look to find that answer in the strategy of MP3Rocket, which used to be a former Gnutella P2P client, but soon changed its methods, doing away with its P2P service and changing its form to become an application which simply recorded videos from YouTube and turned them into MP3 files. Apparently, the company has based its strategies on the Supreme Court’s Betamax verdict, stating that it is “time shifting” – which is basically the ability to hear any kind of music that has been streamed via YouTube – and nothing else, and so it is doing the exact same thing that the ruling had stated, that it was perfectly legal to record TV shows using video cassettes.
While there are a lot of counter arguments to this – with various lawsuits as proof – there is, as of yet, no concrete precedent that states that downloading YouTube videos as MP3 files is copyright infringement. While the legal tussle can turn out to be a never-ending affair, what cannot be denied is the fact that technology has superseded law in such a way that its chances of catching up are negligible. In the end, exactly how effectual is it to say that you can record songs off a radio, but not off your own computer?
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