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Piracy Media Software The Media Your Rights Online

RIAA Goes After CNET For Media-Conversion Software 257

Posted by timothy
from the don't-you-know-this-pen-could-be-used-in-a-crime? dept.
First time accepted submitter moj0joj0 writes "Two days after YouTube-MP3.org, a site that converts songs from music videos into MP3 files, was blocked from accessing YouTube, the RIAA has asked CNET to remove software from Download.com that performs a similar function. The RIAA focused its criticism on software found at Download.com called YouTubeDownloader. The organization also pointed out that there are many other similar applications available at the site, 'which can be used to steal content from CBS, which owns Download.com.' CNET's policy is that Download.com is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not or whether it can be used for illegal activity." For a sufficiently broad definition of "steal," you could argue that all kinds of software (from word processors to graphics programs to security analysis tools) could be implicated.
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RIAA Goes After CNET For Media-Conversion Software

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  • by Bigsquid.1776 (2554998) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:58PM (#40404509)
    Don't these dorks know there is not much difference between streaming and downloading.
    • The browser will, in fact, cache some of these on the disk so the user can pull them out of there if they want to.
    • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:11PM (#40404659)

      Ads

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:13PM (#40404703)

      Probably not. I actually have a non-infringing (I think) use for these tools. My old Mac G5 has no Flash updates anymore - it's not supported. Most of the time it doesn't matter, but every once in a while I have to download the video so that I can view it with VLC.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:18PM (#40404775)

      I always download songs because I've seen instances where the record company yanked the song off youtube (example: most of Prince's songs). I learned to backup my favorite 70s/80s-era songs so that, if I can no longer access them via youtube, I can still hear them when I like.

      • by xenobyte (446878)

        I always download songs because I've seen instances where the record company yanked the song off youtube (example: most of Prince's songs). I learned to backup my favorite 70s/80s-era songs so that, if I can no longer access them via youtube, I can still hear them when I like.

        Yes, the MAFIAA is constantly removing stuff from Youtube so if you find something you like, make a backup to your private harddisk right away. I learned this the hard way, having my favorites list go empty because things got removed.

        Oh, and when the stupid record labels decide to release a new interesting song as a Youtube video only, you need to be able to convert it to MP3 for listening offline.

    • by jimmyfrank (1106681) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:23PM (#40405393)
      You could probably take a shoe box, construction paper, magic markers, and make a mp3 vault. Take some pics, blog about it, and the RIAA would probably think it was real.
      • by exomondo (1725132)
        I was going to suggest BAN ALL COMPUTERS! but you're probably right, RIAA will go after anything with 'mp3' or 'download' written on it.
    • by kevinadi (191992)

      They're dorks. What do you expect?

    • by Warhawke (1312723) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @09:20PM (#40406521)

      Don't these dorks know there is not much difference between streaming and downloading.

      Ads. Data caps. Access restriction. Post-upload revisions. Censorship. If you can equate streaming to downloading, you can equate licensing to ownership.

    • by macs4all (973270)
      Stream. Rip. Burn.

      (Except nobody bothers with the "Burn" part anymore...)
    • When you stream from youtube, ads are shown to you. If you click those ads, RIAA gets a cut. If you download the video with no ads, RIAA considers this "stealing"
    • Or that if you tell someone they can't do something one way, that encourages them to do it a different way?

      It had been about 7 years since I had last downloaded a commercially available MP3 or movie without paying for it when SOPA/PIPA got trotted out and they started clamping down on pirate bay. So I started subscribing to a VPN service. I was being really stingy with what I listened to or watched. Now that I started pirating again, I've come across so much music and TV shows that I had missed out on
    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday June 22, 2012 @03:01AM (#40408577) Homepage

      They don't seem to understand that people will just create new software to keep downloaded data from being deleted.
      They need to ban programming languages.

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday June 22, 2012 @03:08AM (#40408595) Journal
      The law is more concerned with intent than technical mechanism. This allows the same law to cover deliberately killing someone with a rifle or a car, but remarkably similar actions by accident are covered under different laws.

      The intent of visiting youTube is to stream videos. The intent of this software is to download (and presumably keep a permanent copy of) videos.

      Since the RIAA only has rights to a relatively small number of the videos on youTube, and we have no idea whether all the other millions of users it's hard to make the case that the intent of this software is music piracy. If youTube has explicit terms about downloading rather than streaming, then youTube might be able to argue tortuous interference with contract or something but the RIAA has no standing.
      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        Sure the intent of such software might be to download Youtube videos, but who says the videos downloaded have to be copyrighted? They might be, for example, a video about Scientology or Islam that you might want to make a copy of in case it gets taken down. There are perfectly legitimate uses for video downloader services and software.
    • by stephanruby (542433) on Friday June 22, 2012 @03:28AM (#40408693)

      The organization also pointed out that there are many other similar applications available at the site, 'which can be used to steal content from CBS, which owns Download.com.'

      Yeah, CBS is also going to be real happy about this.

      Now even less people will download their adware/malware [boingboing.net] infected wrappers. That can't be good for Download.com's business model.

      It's one thing for the RIAA to go after little kids for downloading music, it's another thing entirely to go after its own members (but then again, CBS is probably just a member of MPAA, not RIAA, so may be I just answered my own question).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:58PM (#40404511)
    Name your wifi network "RIAA Monitor Station"
  • by OhSoLaMeow (2536022) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:59PM (#40404525)
    RIAA has asked Unix vendors to remove the 'cp' command since it can be used to make illegal copies of music software.
  • Draw me a line (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:00PM (#40404539) Homepage

    I'd like to know where the RIAA/MPAA draw the line. Does skipping ads on radio and TV count as theft? How about just channel surfing during the ad-break, or getting up and making some coffee? Or just hitting "mute"?

    Does remembering a song in my head count as ripping them off if I don't also own the CD? If I go to a friend's house is it wrong to listen to or borrow their CDs and DVDs, or watch their cable TV?

    I can buy a portable DVD player and take my discs with me. How is it any different if I rip the discs to watch on my phone or laptop. If I own a DVD but can't be bothered to rip it to my phone is it okay to download a .torrent version? The MPAA's members put all sorts of DRM crap on the disc to make ripping harder, making the download more attractive.

    If I buy a DRM locked song and the seller turns off their DRM servers so I can't play it any more is downloading an MP3 from The Pirate Bay morally acceptable?

    • I'd like to know where the RIAA/MPAA draw the line

      Multiply the total amount of money in circulation by 5, and if the profit is less than that figure, it is a problem for the **AA.

    • Easy answer: if they could they would label all of these activities you listed as "theft".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They can't and won't draw you a line. Drawing a line would state that, at some point in history, nothing beyond the current technology could do us more or less harm. That is exactly what they don't to have happen. By keeping their position grey, and constantly venting that new tech. is further depriving them profits, they can't be held to any single position of appeasement.

      With this new found argument of 'site scripts' for conversion or 'track grabbing', they might as well say wget and the entire TCP/IP sta

    • No one NEEDS the content that the RIAA is trying to protect. A few months boycott and they would be gone for good (and we'd all have a lot more free time on our hands). They have annoyed almost their entire customer base - if only there were a way to leverage this into collective action.

      • Re:Draw me a line (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whargoul (932206) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:51PM (#40405127) Homepage
        The problem with boycotting is you have to get a vast majority of consumers to go along with it and most people just don't care enough to go through with it. I do, you do and most of /. prolly does but talk to Joe Plumber or Nacho Roofer about DRM and they'll think you're talking about some sort of VD...nevermind the teenagers (RIAA's ever-so-loyal fanbase) who would look at you like you're stupid and continue to buy anyways.
      • The best part of this boycott is that you don't have to go without.
    • by paiute (550198)

      ... getting up and making some coffee?

      The next generation of TVs will have a government-mandated camera in them - to protect children from hearing curses. This will be used to monitor viewers during commercial breaks. If anyone is absent during an ad, the show will not resume.

    • You are expecting them to possess a line which if no one crosses that they'll be satisfied and back off? You are misunderstanding what is going on here.
    • by melikamp (631205)
      MAFIAA is not interested in drawing any lines. Their business is racket: they use the obscene statutory damages in the broken copyright law to shake down everyone, from industry giants to single moms. Frivolous litigation or even fear of litigation is often enough to produce a settlement. This has nothing to do with art, artists, or even the meaning of copyright: their only wish to crush anyone who dares to compete.
    • by Idbar (1034346)

      Does remembering a song in my head count as ripping them off if I don't also own the CD?

      Judging by their action, I assume most of them already had a lobotomy. So very likely they thought that would be the case.

    • How about evading web paywalls by refusing or deleting cookies?

      I think it's an interesting case since on some sites all that means is you are actually downloading less data. New York Times and The Economist provide good examples of this.

    • I think you know the answer.

      Anything that doesn't get them more money, right or wrong, deserved or not, is "theft" in their eyes.

      Remember when they said selling used CD's was theft, and they were owed a cut of used sales?

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      They draw the line on anything that screws with their profits which can be anything.
    • Of course they consider it theft. Surprised yet? [techdirt.com]
  • "CNET's policy is that Download.com is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not or whether it can be used for illegal activity." --- It seems pretty obvious that a program designed to download youtube videos is infringing on copyright. Though I guess you could argue said program is no different than a VCR (which the SCOTUS ruled can legally capture video and store it).

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:11PM (#40404671)
      And if you wanted to download the video of some guy making his cat do tricks?
      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        User videos are copyrighted at the moment of creation.
        Not that I care..... I download a ton of stuff from youtube so I can play it back at 2x speed in VLC Player (mostly news programs and lectures).

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Is it fair use for me to download a Flash video so that I can view it with VLC on my non-Flash equipped computer or device? I certainly think it is.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:19PM (#40404791) Journal

      Though I guess you could argue said program is no different than a VCR (which the SCOTUS ruled can legally capture video and store it).

      ...which is likely why the RIAA is asking and whining, instead of issuing takedown notices and sending official threats of litigation.

      The absolute last thing they'd ever want is for a case like this to end up making video/audio ripping off a stream the equivalent of using a VCR to tape a show.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      It seems pretty obvious that a program designed to download youtube videos is infringing on copyright.

      Some of the content on youtube you are explicitly permitted to use. Some videos are in the public domain, others are licensed for use with creative commons.

      Though I guess you could argue said program is no different than a VCR

      You could rightly argue that also.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:02PM (#40404559)

    Holy shit. How much software can NOT be used for illegal activity?

    $ ls /usr/bin /bin /usr/local/bin | wc -l
    2695

    Betting all of that could be "used for illegal activity". Never mind that there are maybe half a dozen media format conversion tools in that list, but check THIS out - there's a tool called g++. With it, I can CREATE tools that could be used for illegal activity, such as media format conversion. It's a meta-illegal tool. Man... posting anonymously, so they don't come after me.

    • by russotto (537200) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @10:57PM (#40407141) Journal

      Holy shit. How much software can NOT be used for illegal activity?

      Not just software. Did you know that all x86 and x86-64 processors contain an instruction called MOV? Despite the innocuous name, this instruction does not in fact MOVE data from one place from another. Rather, it COPIES the data, leaving it in both places -- and that's not the only instruction which does so, just the most common. The ARM processors and even the POWER processors all have similar instructions. The whole industry is involved in a massive conspiracy to violate the copyrights of the xxAAs.

  • Dear RIAA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:10PM (#40404649) Journal
    Fuck You.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      If I ever get a "Pay us $5000 or else" extortion letter from them, that's exactly the response they will get.
      On second thought..... I don't want to waste 50 cents.

      • I had a couple of these. My reply was as follows:

        Sirs,
        I refer you to the response of Private Eye Magazine in Arkell -v- Pressdram (1971):

        Fuck off.

        Sincerely, ..

  • Any program language that can be used to drive TCP traffic is capable of this.

    The functionality is provided by the libraries that come with the OS. So they should ban the OS's.

  • You can argue however you want that it is right or wrong. But, it is not theft. That is, you do not deprive another person of access to their possession.

    I've always hated theft. It is one of the 10 commandments. I grew up learning to hate it because people stole from me. When someone steals your bike, your wallet, or other personal possessions, it hurts. You are now deprived of it, while someone else is selling it for $10 of crack. Stealing hurts innocent people. I continue to hate stealing.

    But, if I paint my bike blue, and my next door neighbor, seeing that, paints his bike blue, he didn't steal my bike. I can call him a "copy cat". But, I still get to ride my bike. I just won't be the only one on the block with a blue bike.

    Yes, we all know the theory of lost sales. But, we all know that copying information does not mean that the person would of purchased that copy of that information if they had not of copied it against the will of someone claiming ownership of that information.

    Thus, I lose respect for anyone who tries to insist that copying information is a violation of the 10 commands along with "though shall not kill" and "though shell not commit adultery". Our laws do not support that claim, and we should do more to discredit those who make it.

    Don't get me wrong. I do not advocate copyright infringement. I am just tired of hearing people try to confuse people into thinking that copying information is hurting people like stealing real physical property does and is a violation of one of the 10 commandments.

    • by kevinadi (191992)

      Their use of the word "steal" is, unfortunately, deliberately done. Sounds better than "copyright infringement", to which people would say "meh". "Steal" is such a strong word, people now start using "Steal" for pretty much everything nowadays.

      Hell, if they can somehow use the word "rape", "murder", etc, they will. For example: "downloading is raping the artists (digitally)", "by downloading, you are indirectly murdering the artist's children by depraving them of basic necessity".

      I find it quite funny when

  • RIAA, would you like to sue Microsoft for having software that ships in Windows that can record audio-out and save it to a wav/mp3 file? And how about Apple, for my iPhone having the same feature (even if the sound is more difficult to get off the device). And pretty much anyone else with a digital audio recorder. Because right now, I can record your songs right off the radio, in fairly OK quality! What if I hum your new hit single? What if I type some of the lyrics? Just curious here. The MPAA faile
    • by bmo (77928) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:23PM (#40404825)

      >RIAA, would you like to sue Microsoft for having software that ships in Windows that can record audio-out and save it to a wav/mp3 file?

      The RIAA will not be satisfied until they successfully make illegal 3.5mm stereo patch cords that can go from audio-out to audio-in.

      --
      BMO

      • by bmo (77928)

        >modded funny

        I guess someone totally missed all the discussion by the 'content providers" of the "analog hole" a few years ago, and efforts to have the entire chain of audio "untappable" all the way to the speakers.

        People have such short memories.

        --
        BMO

  • by vik (17857) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:19PM (#40404781) Homepage Journal

    I'm a Youtube content creator. I want people to download and share my Youtube content. Does this mean my right to share stuff should be trumped by a vague notion of piracy?

  • let CNET burn, im tired of them bundling in malware in their "download managers/installers".
  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:29PM (#40404907)

    There must be a dozen or more Firefox plugins that enable downloading of flash videos. There are even plugins that enable batch downloading of entire Youtube playlists. They are very convenient for watching hi-res versions of videos when you don't have the bandwidth to reliably stream them.

  • Hello Pot (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:31PM (#40404939)

    Hello Pot, meet Barbra Streisand.

  • Simple enough then (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:35PM (#40404973)

    The RIAA members should stop uploading of any content to YouTube which they do not wish to be copied.

  • A private company can limit access to their servers which is what YouTube is doing. This is very different than conversion software which translates files on a person's computer to another format for use in another program. I believe that courts have already ruled that format shifting is legal and maybe even fair use.

  • Thanks MPAA, I hadn't heard of this software, so I just grabbed a copy. Works great!

    Posting it to my server now.

  • If the people in the RIAA were running a brick and morter store association, they would be demanding legislation declaring hands illegal because hands can be used to steal merchandise from stores.

    FTRIAA and the horse it rode in on.

  • Someone needs to DCMA RIAA for once. Find a copyright violation on RIAA and release legal DMCA hell that they did order by demanding laws. That can be used against RIAA and MPAA. As they are using them against people today.

  • Any software Can be used for an illegal purpose. It's up to the user to constrain his own activities to what's legal.
  • My impression was that CNET was the RIAA's best buddy lately. I was involved in a case where the RIAA leaked a cease and desist letter to CNET 3 or 4 days before it was received by the named recipient.

    I'm surprised they would turn on CNET

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