YouTube rippers are seen as the largest piracy threat to the music industry, and record labels are doing their best to shut them down.
In 2017, YouTube-MP3, the world’s largest ripping site at the time, shut down after being sued, and several others followed voluntarily.
A group of music companies hoped to achieve the same with FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. The sites’ Russian owner Tofig Kurbanov was taken to court in the United States in 2018, accused of facilitating mass copyright infringement.
Kurbanov is convinced that the sites operate legally and he had no intention of backing down. He fought back in court. However, after several setbacks, including an order that required the YouTube rippers to log user data, the Russian operator decided to back out of the US court process.
The decision to stop his legal defense almost certainly means that the record labels will win the case. This can also result in a multi-million damages claim and, perhaps even more worryingly, might open the door to a blocking injunction.
It looks like Kurbanov is not awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit. A few hours ago, FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com closed their doors to U.S. traffic. People who try to access the service will get a notice that it’s permanently unavailable. A similar message appears for visitors from the United Kingdom.
TorrentFreak has tried to access FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com from various locations and the shutdown appears to be limited to the US and UK. In other countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, and India, there are no restrictions.
There is no official announcement explaining why the sites are unavailable in the US and UK, but it’s likely that it is directly related to the legal issues.
Shortly before the blocking measures were put in place, the record labels requested a motion for default judgment in a Virginia federal court. The music companies stress that Mr. Kurbanov willfully disobeyed several court orders and failed to show up at his deposition.
“Defendant’s conduct amounts to a failure to defend and has effectively shut down the continued prosecution of this lawsuit. His contumacious and continuing discovery abuses are precisely the kind of conduct for which the default judgment sanction […] exists,” the labels write.
If the court grants the motion they will win the lawsuit. At that point, the only remaining issues are the scale of the damages award, attorneys’ fees, and a permanent injunction with further restrictive measures.
FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com are not the first stream-rippers to block US and UK traffic this week. A few days ago, Y2Mate did exactly the same. While Y2Mate has no connections to Mr. Kurbanov that we’re aware of, the site likely took this step in response to legal pressure.