Thus far, Google has been satisfied to sit on the sidelines, owning the virtual universe and letting the money roll in from their numerous online services, which have always been inventive, versatile and most of all free (and, of course, ad supported). But lately Google has roused from its idle position, not quite content to just sit and be rich anymore.
It appears that the company is now aiming its Death Star-classed dirty looks at YouTube-MP3.org (and other ripping services like them). The site is a service that allows you to scam YouTube (and its uploaders) out of all their hard work by stripping the audio tracks out of the posted videos, to save them as MP3s.
And Google isn’t making money off that service – I mean, Google is upset that these valued contributors are experiencing such a heart-wrenching violation of copyright infringement. Google’s lawyers sent a cease and desist to YouTube-MP3.org, claiming they are violating the YouTube Terms of Service by obtaining, separating and redistributing content they host.
Now, instead of just throwing a fit and threatening to sue the 1.3 visitors a day that these sites entertain, they are at least being responsible enough to get their leagues of smarty-pants minions to figure out how the ripping service accomplishes its dastardly deeds and then scripting in countermeasures to their website code in order to block them.
And now, it seems that the owner of YouTube-MP3.org is upset about these developments. Honestly though, his entire service is based entirely on exploiting a different service that he isn’t paying for. Does he really have the right to be upset about it?
Ok, he can be upset that his website is essentially crippled by Google’s efforts. It’s not like he can fight it legally and insist that YouTube allow his exploitation to continue, but he does have feelings.
I feel it is well within Google’s right to create countermeasures that will protect their free (and ad supported) service. I mean, it is Google that is hosting billions of gigs of data which we get to enjoy for free (did I mention the ads?). The real victims here are the content creators who use YouTube to promote their music.
However, YouTube-MP3.org has posted their defense on their website claiming that copying off of YouTube amounts to the same thing as PVRing your favourite programming off TV (according to German law anyways). They justify this by pointing out that recording devices have always followed the technology that plays media. Because if the technology exists, it can’t be illegal to use it right? They are not using any of YouTube’s technology or API; rather they are recording (or copying) the content using existing technology.
They are now calling on their users to help them – by writing to Harris Cohen, the lawyer representing Google to tell him he is wrong.
So do you feel bad for YouTube-MP3.org? Do you feel bad because you used their services and now (or soon) cannot? Do you think Google/YouTube are within their rights to block these services?