In the annals of Internet freeloading, June 19, 2012 is a date which will live in infamy.
Before that date, YouTube-MP3.org, which allows users to extract MP3 audio from YouTube videos and download them, has been a godsend for the cheap and the demanding. The website allowed users to not only download the latest Brian McKnight song that they liked but wouldn’t pay more than a penny for, but also let them listen to that viral parody that they couldn’t find on iTunes in the comfort of their car.
However, the legitimacy of YouTube-MP3.org is now suddenly under attack from Google. Google’s lawyers threatened the owners with a cease-and-desist order, and the site has seven days to comply.
Of course, the site isn’t going down without a fight to protect the leeching rights of freeloaders around the world. They appealed for help from their users, and claimed that they were in their right to host the site and had not violated any terms of service.
“It wasn’t long ago they lived by their ‘don’t be evil’ philosophy and did what the users wanted,” said “Philip,” writing on behalf of YouTube-MP3.org. “Nowadays they are ignoring millions of users but refer to their questionable good intentions if they are ignoring the ‘TOS’ of others to increase their profitability.”
“Philip” also bemoaned the fact that the 200 million people he claims are using services like YouTube-MP3.org are being treated like criminals by Google.
Will this become the final nail on the coffin for MP3 freeloaders? Although it would shut out those 1.3 million users who visit the site every day, if people want to get stuff for free–they have their ways. Desire mixed with ingenuity on the Internet guarantees that many more sites like YouTube-MP3.org will spring up in various forms and under different names, so piracy will continue to be a hard-fought battle for years to come.
As for artists who might have lost money as a result of sites like YouTube-MP3.org, the end of the site could provide them with a small boost in the short run as casual users may be resigned to buying the music they were previously downloading for free. However, even if freeloaders find another way to get something for nothing, I wouldn’t write the music industry’s obituary yet; there are people who will always be willing to purchase quality content, and independent artists will always be looking for the best ways to monetize their content.