Users Rise Up To Get YouTube MP3 Downloader Re-Instated

from the data-is-data dept

We recently wrote about the RIAA's latest target in their ongoing quest to kill any technology that could be used to infringe, regardless of its other purposes: sites that allow easy downloading of content from YouTube. We noted at the time how Google itself was participating in these efforts, and had blocked YouTube access by YouTube-MP3.org—a handy tool that quickly converted the audio track of any YouTube video into a downloadable mp3 (I've used it myself for plenty of legitimate purposes—most recently downloading a bunch of public domain tango classics). Of course, Google treats this as a terms of service issue, and even though it's likely that copyright pressure from the RIAA and others is a significant cause of their attitude towards such tools, they also have a motivation to keep users within the YouTube website.

Whatever Google's motivations, it should come as no surprise that the users—and providers—of such tools get pretty annoyed when they are blocked. Through PaidContent, we learn of a petition to Google launched by the founder of YouTube-MP3.org, asking the company to allow third-party recording tools. The petition, which is nearly at its goal of a million signatures, makes the case that this is how things have always been:

For decades people were allowed to take a private copy of a public broadcast. You could record the radio program with a cassette recorder or make a copy of your favorite movie by using a video recorder. All these techniques have been opposed heavily in its early years by the big media companies who didn't want the public to have such technology. They did describe such technology as criminal and as a threat to their business.

Several years later history is about to repeat: Google has teamed up with the RIAA to make the same claims against all sorts of online recording tools for their 21th century broadcasting service: YouTube ("Broadcast yourself"). Google is taking action against nearly every service that enables its users to create a private copy of a public YouTube broadcast while the RIAA is threatening news media like CNet for promoting such a software.

While I agree with the purpose of the petition, I actually think this description misses the mark. The real point is that recording is still entirely possible. With everything from screen capture software and programs like AudioHijack to the good old fashioned analog hole (where you could still use those same VCRs and cassette tapes if you wanted) there is just no way to stop it, which makes sense, because the simple fact is that the data is being transmitted to your computer. Your computer may be instructed to discard it soon after, and to not make it obvious where it's storing it in the mean time, but that data is still there and gets copied several times on the way from the server to your screen—it's just a matter of capturing and retaining one of those copies. Meanwhile, services like YouTube-MP3.org are not quite recording devices: rather than capture the data at the rate it is delivered to your computer for playback, they bypass the streaming interface to obtain a full copy of the source file. This is a technical distinction, but an important one—and it has potential legal implications, since the one way such a service could be seen to violate copyright law is under the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA.

That said, the fact that recording will always be possible highlights the silliness of blocking such tools and of anti-circumvention laws in general. The fact is that YouTube is making this data publicly available, and their servers obediently deliver the files. Blacklisting particular sites and citing "terms of service" is a weak response, and at its core is rather similar to websites that claim you need permission to link to them or to display them in an iframe within another website. Google knows as well as anyone that one of the true sources of the internet's potential is the ability to build on top of other services, and to build new services around other sources of data, so it's disappointing to see them block tools like this. Hopefully the growing response from users will spur them to rethink their position.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 20th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Why would anyone go to a website when you can just use a chrome extension or plugin if you use another browser.

     

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    MrWilson, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Once again, if you want a guarantee that no one will copy your work without your permission, do not publish it. Period. Full stop.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:16am

    if the RIAA or any other of the entertainment industries did this and were making money, they would kick up joe buggery if Google stopped the YouTube download. it's the same thing as TPB. when no 'official download' is available but an alternative is, what are people expected to do? the entertainment industries dont want to give people what they continuously ask for but keep moaning when the alternatives fill the gap. the answer is obvious, even to them. sooner or later, they will have to go down this road, as much as it is going to upset and offend them. the alternative is cease to exist. personally, that's the option i prefer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Dear Google,

    Do no evil.

    Yours truly,
    The interwebz

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Makes you wonder...

    Every copytroll seems to whine that Youtube is full of videos of cats or something because that's what we'd be left with if the big studios stop making their rubbish..... so what's the problem with capturing cat meows exactly?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    The silliness of making it EASIER for people to pirate your stuff is apparent. Google / Youtube don't want to get caught out for facilitating this behavior, the legal liability would be huge.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      The legal liability would not only be huge, but also imaginary.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 4:56pm

      Re:

      If your work is popularily successful, be aware that the copyright is not a magic spell and inevitably, if you publish/make it accessible to the public, it's going to be infringed in some way by somebody, probably a lot of ways by a lot of people.

      That's a cost of publishing/making publicly acceptable. There is no reasonable solution that will fix it.

      The natural state is anyone can copy. They can see what you've done, figure out your tech, or faithfully reproduce your texts, and that's ok. However, some believe that this does not not encourage publishing and sharing information and works, and so some limited, anti competition rights are merited as a "special priviledge" enticement and compensation for the costs that come with outting your stuff "out there".

      That's enough.

      The idea is why should someone release something "out into the wild" for not benefit when there are all these costs of other people doing stuff with your work if you do put it out there? So let's give a reasonable enticement.

      The idea is not and has never been any of the following

      * no one will copy your work; copyright is like magic bro,

      * people should be subjected to criminal sanctions for stuff they do with your work bro, and the tax payer should like totally pay for that,

      * you and your descendents should be able to hold culture to ransom for your own rent seeking benefit, and after your dead, your relatives should be able sit on their asses taking money for nothing for like 70 more years,

      * you can use it to hold to outdated business models, hold back the progress of science and innovation, and deploy this priviledge in an aggressively anti competitive manner so you don't have to innovate or be progressive anymore, and at any cost to everyone else in the world but you bro.

      None of these things are justified by copyright or remotely reasonable.

      The monopoly and civil remedies are enough. Grabbing for more is greedly, self-blinded, contrary to the only modernly acceptable justifications for IP, and is utterly ungrateful, anti-social, unreasonable, and self-entitled behaviour.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Um... you can technically download videos from YouTube & such with your browser alone and no plugins, if you know what you're doing. Will they ban browsers? That'll kinda defeat the purpose of YouTube's existing, tho...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 12:08pm

    Hopefully the growing response from users will spur them to rethink their position.

    Does Chrome's address bar still autocomplete URLs? Because everyone complained about that for months, demanded it be removed or at least made optional, and Google's eventual response was, "OK, we'll probably try and tone it down a little bit next version."
    (Chromium 9 was when the trouble started. I'm still using Chromium 8...)

     

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    Digitari, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    New Name?

    Are they taking the "you" out of Youtube?


    that would just leave.........




    "The internet is a series of tubes" Ted Stevens

     

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    Shmerl, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

    Converting Youtube videos to audio

    Most youtube videos are available in WebM fortmat now. Enable HMTL5 option in http://youtube.com/html5 and then open some youtube page. Video itself will be streamed without any Flash, directly in WebM format. All normal browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) allow you to see media components of the page, which you can simply download without any fuss. Save the file as .webm and you can use any tools to extract Vorbis audio channel from it. Nothing prevents users from doing that (except may be some learning).

     

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      Tim Griffiths (profile), Jul 23rd, 2012 @ 3:27am

      Re: Converting Youtube videos to audio

      As stated above so long as something is showing on your screen or coming out of your speakers you can copy it. All that moves like this are intended to do is to raise the barrier of entry and make it hard enough that the typical user simply won't bother. Be that it's too incontinent or requires a level of skill and knowledge that they don't have and can't / won't invest in getting.

      The war on piracy is and always has been a war on the convenience of being a pirate. They do this because they (oddly) understand that convenience (rather than being free) is one of the major reason why people pirate. Rather than adapt to compete with this level of convenience they are seeking to make it as inconvenient or more so to pirate than buy a legal copy. This is born out of some mad idea that since people will often opt to pay for legal content when it's available a level of convenience they enjoy those same people then must be happy to pay for inconvenient legal content when there is no more convenient illegal option.

      Point being that being able to drop a URL of a youtube video in to a box and get a mp3 out is a hell of a lot more convenient than messing around in the way you point out. Even next to browser extensions it's something that makes sense to a wider number of people. I'm pretty sure my mum, who would have no idea other browsers existed if I hadn't pointed them out, could understand going to a website and putting in the youtube URL.

       

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    AnonCow, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    A technology that isn't itself illegal, but is often used to bypass copyright protections?

    Sounds like YouTube and Google kettles are calling the mp3 downloader pot black...

     

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    Jenfi, Jul 21st, 2012 @ 1:37am

    Whats wrong with Google?

    Whats the difference between using that site and Real Downloader Pro?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    xVideoServiceThief is a good program for downloading from YouTube, but like any such program it needs to be updated frequently, since YouTube frequently changes their protection.

     

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    Ghostface, Jul 25th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOOGLE TOOK A FIGHT THEY CANT WIN.
    Thought they had more brain that that.
    My god this is funny shit.

     

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    Jhon, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 12:06am

    we all see google adsense ads over there. If it was illegal then why they put google ads over there? and recently they lost a case against google, but the judge said they could keep their service running without saving any converted song on their server.

    Meanwhile you could visit http://youtube2mp3now.com/ to convert audio files from youtube videos, i use this site because its faster than any other services.

     

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