The music industry gets tough on sites offering audio downloads from YouTube videos.

A number of the world’s biggest record labels are suing a website that allows users to rip mp3s from YouTube videos.

Universal, Sony, Capitol Records, Atlantic, Warner Bros and others have taken legal action against the owner of German-based site YouTube-mp3.org in a federal court in LA, reports BBC News. The record labels claim that “tens, or even hundreds of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month” and that YouTube-mp3.org is the “chief offender.”

Based in Germany, YouTube-mp3.org is the world’s largest stream-ripping site, with more than 60 million global unique users a month. It’s allegedly responsible for more than 40 per cent of all music ripped from YouTube.

The lawsuit lists 300 songs that have been allegedly converted from video to mp3 and downloaded by users including Sia’s ‘Chandelier’. They are seeking $150,000 (£115,000) damages for every alleged instance of piracy.

In addition to the damages claim, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) are asking for a court order that would ban web hosts, advertisers and other third parties from facilitating access to youtube-mp3.org.

A statement from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry yesterday (September 26) said “stream ripping has become a major threat to the music industry, functioning as an unlawful substitute for the purchase of recorded music and the purchase of subscriptions to authorised streaming services.”

The defendants have yet to respond to the claims although their website states that they are “different from other services,” because “the whole conversion process will be performed by our infrastructure, and you only have to download the audio file from our servers.”

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