Three years ago, the RIAA began targeting YouTube ripping sites by sending relatively rare takedown requests to Google.
Instead of the usual DMCA copyright notices, the music group asked the search engine to remove various URLs for alleged violations of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.
The sites in question are accused of circumventing YouTube’s rolling cipher, a technical protection measure that attempts to protect audio and video from being copied without permission. As such, the RIAA argues that the sites should be removed from Google’s search results.
Shortly after the RIAA started this campaign, its British counterpart BPI began sending similar requests. These groups represent the broader music industry, including many of the major labels, and both have in-house anti-piracy teams that handle these takedowns.
Indie Label’s Takedown Spree
These industry groups have no shortage of firepower but this year their activities have been largely overshadowed by a newcomer. After sending its first anti-circumvention takedown notice in February, an independent record label from France is setting the pace.
The label in question is Because Music and it has just a few dozen signed artists. That didn’t stop the company from sending more than 2,800 takedown requests asking Google to remove over 10,000 links to YouTube ripping sites.
“Tool to bypass YouTube security measures allowing users to illegally download our copyrighted content,” the identical notices inform Google, requesting various stream-ripper URLs to be removed.
To put this number into perspective, the RIAA sent just over 100 anti-circumvention notices this year, while the BPI is stuck at roughly 180. This means that the indie label submitted roughly ten times as many takedown requests in the same period.
36% of All Circumvention Notices
The French label is by far the most prolific sender of DMCA anti-circumvention notices. According to Google’s transparency report, it’s responsible for more than one-third (36%) of all notices submitted to the search engine.
Because Music’s DMCA’s anti-circumvention notices are also sent on behalf of another indie label, Yonea and Willy, and all list just one track: “Dans ma ruche” from the rapper Guizmo. With over 3 million views on the YouTube video, it’s clear to see why the label is trying to protect it from unauthorized downloads.
Google has removed many thousands of stream-ripper URLs in response to these takedown requests. An exact figure is more difficult to establish as the number of URLs varies per notice, but the efforts are definitely having an impact.
At the same time, the YouTube rippers themselves aren’t sitting still either. They are actively countering the takedown notices by continuously using new URL structures.
For example, Because Music asked Google to remove mp3y.download/en/youtube-converter-v180 from its search results this week. That takedown worked for a while, but the site swiftly moved to mp3y.download/en/youtube-converter-v181 in response.
It’s pretty much a perpetual game of cat and mouse.