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World’s largest music stream ripping website to cease operations globally following legal action

IFPI, in conjunction with the RIAA and BPI, announced today that following successful legal action from record companies in the United Kingdom and the United States, the world’s largest music stream ripping website will shut down.

YouTube-mp3.org, a Germany-based site with 60 million visitors a month, facilitated the ripping of downloadable music files from online audio-visual works. Sites like YouTube-mp3.org typically extract large profits from advertising while delivering nothing to music makers. IFPI estimates the site generated “hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue per month, often from major brands.” In addition to agreeing to cease operations, the site’s operator has agreed to not infringe the rights of artists and labels in the future.

“The largest site dedicated to the fastest growing form of music piracy is shutting down. This is welcome news for music creators and the fans that support them,” says Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “Artists and advocates around the world are fighting for a better future for creators. As we continue to work with governments and legitimate music services to build a functioning ecosystem, it’s important that flagrant violations like stream ripping be met with firm action.”

In a joint release issued by IFPI, the RIAA and BPI, industry leaders welcomed the news:

“Stream ripping sites blatantly infringe the rights of record companies and artists,” said IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore. “Today, music companies and licensed digital services work together to offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – hundreds of services with over 40 million tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream ripping sites should not be allowed to jeopardise this and we will continue to take action against these sites.”

“This is a significant win for millions of music fans, as well as music creators and legitimate music services,” said Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA. “One of the world’s most egregious stream ripping sites has shuttered. Sites like these undermine the health of the legitimate marketplace and the livelihoods of millions of music creators worldwide. The swift and successful conclusion of this case should send an unmistakable signal to the operators of similar sites.” 

“This illegal site wasn’t just ripping streams, it was ripping off artists,” said Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI. “Most fans understand that getting music from a genuine site supports the artists they love and allows labels to nurture the next generation of talent.  Music stands on the cusp of an exciting future in the streaming age, but only if we take resolute action against illegal businesses that try to siphon away its value.”

Piracy, and particularly stream ripping, remains a significant concern in Canada. A survey commissioned by IFPI in 2016 found that 27% of Canadian respondents reported pirating music, and 22% reported doing so via stream ripping. The age group most likely to use stream ripping sites was 16-24 year-olds, with 48% reporting doing so in the past year. While Youtube-mp3.org was the largest stream ripping site, the industry hope is that this legal action will send a clear message to other sites still in operation that they are breaking the law, and will face similar action if they do not shut down.

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‘Value gap’ growing, according to new UK figures

New figures released yesterday at Canadian Music Week by the BPI – the record labels’ organization that promotes British music – highlight the growing “Value Gap” that exists between consumption of music in the UK and the amount that record labels and artists receive in revenues from video streaming platforms.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, told delegates that the number of people streaming music in the UK doubled in 2015, resulting in a 70 per cent increase in payments from services such as Spotify and Apple to record labels, helping to propel the market to overall growth.

However, while UK streams of music videos almost doubled during the same 12 month period, the revenues paid to labels for those streams flat-lined, rising by less than half of one per cent. This disparity neatly encapsulates the market distortion characterised by the IFPI as the “Value Gap”.

Taylor added: “The rising flow of royalties that should be nurturing artists and labels has slowed to a trickle, as platforms that rely on safe harbours use consumer demand for our music to grow their own businesses at the expense of creators.”

Frances Moore, CEO, IFPI, gave the keynote speech on the ‘State of the Global Music Industry’ in which she referred to the findings of IFPI’s recently released Global Music Report, which showed that the music industry grew in 2015 for the first time in almost two decades, with digital revenues overtaking physical revenues for the first time.

Addressing the conference, Moore said: “We are at an extraordinary moment in our global business. Music is being consumed at unprecedented levels. Measurable growth is being achieved for the first time in nearly two decades.

“Yet the job of turning around the global music industry is really only just beginning and the scale of the anomaly to be fixed is huge. Music is driving economic activity and digital commerce. Yet, in terms of the value being returned to its creators and investors, music is massively undervalued.”

Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO, RIAA, said: “DMCA reform has become an international phenomenon. Thousands of artists, dozens of music organizations and managers are speaking out and it’s beginning to make a difference. The fundamental unfairness of our existing laws, the stature of artists and power of music, is breaking through like never before.”

Graham Henderson, President and CEO, Music Canada, said: “The value gap is a striking example of how wealth has shifted from those who create content – our artists and their partners – to the large companies that build their platforms on that content. Creators are worse off today than they were when digital came into their lives. This is disturbing and was avoidable. Policy makers now have the opportunity to rebalance the framework in such a way that creators are fairly compensated.”

Dan Rosen, Chief Executive, ARIA, said: “The local Australian music business has done a great job in embracing new digital platforms, giving fans unprecedented access to the music they love. However, we need to ensure that the policy environment reflects the true value that music provides to digital services and allow money to flow back to the artists and labels to sustain a healthy ecosystem of creativity.”

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