It's bad to be too good in this dangerous world. Google, one of the few supporters of uses' rights and their freedom, is now being painted as a villain. That's exactly what the founder of YouTube-MP3.org is trying to do.
There is a site called YouTube-MP3.org which offers an online where you can enter the YouTube link of any song and it will rip the mp3 from the video which you can download locally. Google recently contacted the site to stop the service or face legal actions. The site claims to have more than 1.3 millions daily visitors, so that's a heavy traffic. To ensure that the site won't be ripping YouTube videos, Google blocked the site from accessing YouTube. Now, the creator of the site, 21 year old Philip Matesanz, is fighting back. He has also created a petition on Change.org.
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.
This, in my opinion, is an unnecessary attempt to paint Google as a villain. Which is not the case. We need to indentify who may be behind all this and that this case holds the potential to change the way YouTube works.
YouTube is a service which allows users to watch content (including movies, and TV shows) and listen to music for free of cost. The site is supported by advertisement. Now, these advertisements are not just for YouTube. These advertisements are for users who work hard to generate content. These advertisements help them fund and support their work.
YouTube is redefining media consumption and creation in two ways:
- It offers users access to free content
- It allows creators to monetize from their work without intervention of RIAA which takes control of artists' lives.
YouTube Is Pro-People
YouTube is an extremely pro-people site, other than those incidents where DMCA is misued by 3rd parties to take some content down. YouTube has become a very powerful tool for citizen journalism at a time when corporate media filters everything that is not in their interest.
YouTube just launched a tool which allows protesters to blur their faces so that evil governments can't identify them and come after their lives.
At the same time YouTube supports open standards and technologies like HTML5.
Contrary to what Philip is saying YouTube does allow users to download content via browser plugins. So, YouTube is very much in favour of users being able to download content they like. However the problem starts with mass ripping tools like YouTube-MP3.org.
Gets Mafia's Attention
This mass conversion tool gets the attention of incompetent and fossilized MPAA/RIAA who have failed to evolve with time and use technology to grow their market presence. Instead they are still living in the pre-historic age.
I think it was RIAA which forced Google to either take an action against youtube-mp3.org or face removal of all their content from YouTube. YouTube-mp3.org has threatened the model of YouTube by getting RIAA's attention.
What Will Google Do?
If Google wants to keep content from music labels they will have to assure RIAA that their content can't be copied (something which never was an issue) so all such content of YouTube will be encrypted or wrapped in some kind of stupid DRM.
The other solution is to stop the site which is ripping such content and let RIAA go back to home.
What do you want Philip? We all know how RIAA works no petition is going to change their heart or give Google superpowers to fight them. It will only weaken Google. RIAA won't lose, it's users who will lose as they won't have access to the content as they once used to have. Google will be the loser as they failed to keep YouTube as open as they wanted to, or they will lose access to content from RIAA. Youtube.mp3 will be the loser as there won't be any content to rip. The only winner will be RIAA.
I don't think that's what we want.
YouTube-MP3 Is Bad For Content Creators
This site is not helping or encouraging the content creators as well. When I spend hours and days in creating a piece and I am ready to release it for free of cost, under a creative common licence and also allow users to download it I do want to be supported by a revenue generation model which YouTube offers so that I can continue to invest time and resources in creating such content.
It's interesting that while youtube-mp3.org deprive independent creators and Google from generating revenues through ads, the site itself seems to use ads to monitize from conversion.
As a content creator, I make all my videos available under a creative common licence and allow anyone to download it. I am a huge supportor of sharing, but the above picture doesn't make sense.
At the same time, more than money, I want to see my viewers' reaction. I want to connect with them. I want to see how many times my video or song was viewed. How many million hits it got. I want a pat on my back when someone say, 'excellent video. Loved it'.
As Tim O'Reilly said, "Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy."
YouTube-MP3.org does exactly that. It makes me or artists like me obscure. No one visits my YouTube page, no hits, no comments, no pat on the back and no financial support which enables me create more work of art. People just enter the URL, rip it, save it on their hard drives and don't even bother who created it.
The artist who created it is lost, becomes obscure.
- So, youtube-mp3.org is not good for users, as it will push RIAA to force Google and implement DRM.
- It is not good for Google which is already fighting against evil like SOPA and PIPA and will make it hard for them to get content from such labels.
- It is not good for content creators as they don't get to communicate with their viewers.
As one slashdot user writes:
The real issue here is that copyright holders (those big evil RIAA members) never realized how easy stripping music from youtube videos actually was. That's the only reason they let all their music go up on the site (albeit slathered with advertising and overlays.) Anytime someone draws attention to how easy getting the audio (or video) actually is, it makes copyright holders skittish. They think that this guy has somehow discovered some sort of technological loophole that allows him to download the files in a way others can't (he hasn't.) Google is probably under tremendous pressure to shut this guy down, and they'll do it just so that nobody starts asking questions about why it's so easy to do what he's doing anyway.
Better that one man takes the fall (and just shuts down his site) than that the whole world suffers losing unfettered access to youtube source files.
Google is one of the few companies (or may be the only company) which fights for their users. Attacking them is not going to do any good. It will only weaken the only friend we have in the industry dominated by abusive monopolies like Microsoft or draconian forces like Apple.
Now, the question is who do we support? Do we support YouTube/Google which offers content for free of cost and allows users to download using free plugins. Do we support the company which has created a support system for artists so that they don’t have to sell their souls to MPAA or RIAA? Do we support the company which fought against SOPA/PIPA? Do we support a company which is protecting protesters?
Or do we support a company/site which is stealing from a service, stealing from content creators? A site we don’t know much about, a site which probably did not fight against SOPA/PIPA or ACTA or for user’s freedom?