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Are websites such as youtube-mp3.org, listentoyoutube.com, vidtomp3.com, etc. legal in the United States?

San Francisco, CA |

To be less vague:

1.) Can an individual in the United States access the software being hosted on these websites and use it to download a copy of a copyrighted song hosted on YouTube, without infringing on this copyright and if the song is only for personal use (and if the song is not further distributed)?

- A relevant analogy in which people have taken a private copy of a public broadcast would be people recording a radio program with a cassette recorder or making a copy of their favorite TV movie by using a video recorder.

2. Is it legal for a company based in the US to provide these YouTube to Mp3 copying services such as the ones being provided on the aforementioned websites, especially if the company only intends these services to be used in the making of legal copies?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

No. To both questions. It's not legal to use software to circumvent Youtube in order to download and make copies of songs or videos. That's copyright infringement. Because of this, there is no underlying legal use for that sort of software - it's contributing to copyright infringement, probably willfully. There's no difference between what these sites are doing and what Napster and BearShare and those sites were doing back in the day. It is illegal to make copies of songs and movies from the internet. End of story.

No information you obtain from this answer is legal advice, nor is it intended to be. You should consult an attorney for individualized advice regarding your situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed by my responding to your question.

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Asker

Posted

Thanks for your answer. Although, now I'm even more confused because what you are saying is that since the software can/and is being misused, there can be no legal use of it. That to me does not make a whole lot of sense. There is plenty of software that can/and is being misused which is still perfectly legal. For instance, people willfully misuse email in violation of the Can-Spam Act, yet email is still a perfectly legal software? Wouldn't there have to be some sort of presumption, as you allude to, of willful contribution to copyright infringement (perhaps in the form of marketing efforts designed to highlight the illegal uses of the software or ? I also think you make a flawed comparison in at least one important respect. And that is, BearShare, Napster, etc were all hosting copyrighted material on their servers making it (1) easy for any member of the public to access this copyrighted material, and implicating (2) that these companies were willfully participating in the mass distribution of copyrighted material. The companies I am referring to simply offer the software to make a one time conversion to a single person who initiated the copying by entering the YouTube link. Each individual file is then transferred to a single person and then simultaneously removed from the servers. So whereas BearShare, Napster, etc. host copyrighted material for prolonged periods of time and each individual file might be transferred to hundreds of thousands possibly even a million people, the YouTube copying sites merely provide copying software that has the capacity to be utilized in a way that doesn't infringe on any copyrights. Also, if I may propose a third question 3. It has been suggested that copying for personal use in such countries as Germany and Canada is in fact legal, and that companies based in those countries which provide the technology necessary for people to do so are also operating within the limits of the law... See: http://edge.youtube-mp3.org/gcase/hra.pdf See: http://edge.youtube-mp3.org/gcase/wbs.pdf ...Therefore, can individuals affiliated with companies in those countries in which providing such services is legal still be subject to US prosecution if their services are utilized illegally by US citizens? And just in case you wondering, this is not for school or anything like that. I am just genuinely interested in the legality of these sites as I have seen hundreds of them operating.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Better find a better business model. This one won't fly in the US or will fly into a legal mountain, crash and burn.

Kerry Blasingim

Kerry Blasingim

Posted

tl;dr - it seems like you're trying to find wriggle room around the fact that these sites are totally illegal. You can't. They are. That's why the keep going down and being replaced by new sites.

Posted

Q:1.) Can an individual in the United States access the software being hosted on these websites and use it to download a copy of a copyrighted song hosted on YouTube, without infringing on this copyright and if the song is only for personal use (and if the song is not further distributed)?
A: NO, that is copyright infringement. The download is illegal unless you get permission and what use you make of it after you download does not change the infringing nature of the download. Also, there is not personal use exception that allows you to make copies of infringing copies. If the original copy is infringing, so is s a backup.

Q:" A relevant analogy in which people have taken a private copy of a public broadcast would be people recording a radio program with a cassette recorder or making a copy of their favorite TV movie by using a video recorder. "
A: No that's not relevant and not analagous because a limited broadcast like YouTube (read the TOS you clicked as agreed) is not an unlimited public broadcast.

Q:"2. Is it legal for a company based in the US to provide these YouTube to Mp3 copying services such as the ones being provided on the aforementioned websites, especially if the company only intends these services to be used in the making of legal copies?
A: NO, and that "intention" is pure BS anyway. Napster, KaZaa, Grokster, MegaUpload and Limewire all tried that lie and it did not work.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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Asker

Posted

The TOS point you make is actually important, because these sites sidestep that by never agreeing to the terms of service. That is, they do not utilize the YouTube API, and the conversions take place completely within the architecture of the conversion sites. So there is no action, express or implied, in which the TOS are agreed to by the conversion sites. In addition to that, users aren't even required to create an account to browse YouTube, so there is a actually a high probability that some users who are using the conversion sites are not violating YouTube TOS either. With respect to MegaUpload and some of the other sites you have mentioned, they fail for a different reason, which I mentioned earlier. That is, they host copyrighted material on their servers, and in addition (at least with Megaupload) they use marketing efforts aimed at highlighting illegal content available. I really do appreciate the responses that you as well as the other attorney have given. However, with respect to the notion that just because software has the potential to be misused it should be illegal, I cannot agree. Consider the owner of a copy shop. If someone comes into the copy shop and makes a copy of copyright protected material, is the copy shop owner then liable for providing perfectly legal technology? I would tend to believe that this is not so. In fact, I think I remember reading a case on this exact type of dilemma in which a publisher tried to hold a copy shop owner liable for allowing professors/students make copies of books. If I remember correctly the copy shop owner was absolved of any wrong doing as he merely provided the technology which was then misused by the professors/students.