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U.K. TAKES ON STREAM RIPPING BATTLE

The scale of what’s being tipped as the new form of piracy, stream ripping, has been measured by a report coming out of the U.K. that suggests the practice constitutes 68.2% of music-specific infringement, and has increased by 141.3% in just under three years. It’s something the major labels tried to quash with a lawsuit against one of the most popular YouTube-ripping sites, YouTube-mp3.org, last year.

Stream ripping services are defined as any site, software program or app which can be used to download content illegally from a third-party internet stream and consumed offline.

The report was put together by British PRO PRS for Music and the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office. It surveyed over 9k people to better understand how stream ripping websites function and consumer’s reasoning for using them, in order to inform and encourage a co-ordinated industry and Government approach to tackling online copyright infringement. It seems that Google stepped up to the plate with YouTube-mp3.org, which is currently offline after being served with a cease and desist letter from one of YouTube’s lawyers.

That 68.2% stat was taken from total usage across the 50 top music-specific sites, while the increase of 141.3% happened during January 2014 to September 2016. YouTube is by far the most popular source of content for these sites, and used by 75 of the 80 stream ripping services surveyed.

Advertising is the main funding model associated with stream ripping services, with 52.5% linked to malware/potentially unwanted programme (PUP) advertising. The study indicated 57% of the U.K. adults asked claimed to be aware of stream ripping services and 15% have used one. Those who did were significantly more likely to be male, ABC1 social grade, and between the ages of 16 to 34.

The reasons given by those surveyed for stream ripping were: the music was already

owned in another format (31%); they wanted to listen to music offline (26%); and they

wanted to listen on the move (25%). Unaffordability (21%) and feeling official content

was overpriced (20%) were the next most common responses. While the majority of traffic comes from direct access, search engines deliver a significant proportion of traffic to the stream ripping services—over 60% for one service category.

PRS for Music CEO Robert Ashcroft said: "The transition to streaming has not diminished the demand for ownership of musical works; specifically amongst consumers without access to temporary downloads provided by subscription streaming services.

"Stream ripping services have grown out of this demand and, if left unchallenged, risk significant harm to the value of the creative sectors, as they undermine one of the key drivers for consumers transitioning from ad-funded to subscription services."

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