Record companies (UMG Recordings, Inc.; Capitol Records, LLC; Warner Bros. Records Inc.; Warner Music Latina Inc.; Sony Music Entertainment; Sony Music Entertainment US Latin LLC; Arista Records LLC; Atlantic Recording Corporation; Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.; Fueled by Ramen, LLC; Kemosabe Records LLC; LaFace Records LLC; Nonesuch Records Inc.; WEA International Inc.; and Zomba Recording LLC) filed a suit against persons owning and operating website “YouTube-mp3” (“YTMP3”), www.youtube-mp3.org.
According to claim, the website is designed to infringe and facilitate the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings that are available on YouTube (www.youtube.com). YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3’s users access (these audio tracks consist largely of sound recordings owned by Plaintiffs), converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3’s servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smart phones. All of this occurs without the authorization of Plaintiffs or of YouTube, which makes videos available to its users for viewing and listening online, but not for copying or downloading.
Plaintiffs claim, that YTMP3 directly infringes their sound recordings and it also provides the site and facilities and means for its users to engage in copyright infringement, while profiting from the infringement; YTMP3 also materially contributes to the infringement by its users, of which it has knowledge; it also violates YouTube’s Terms of Service. In addition, on information and belief of plaintiffs, YTMP3’s unauthorized conversion, copying, storage, and distribution of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings is accomplished by YTMP3 unlawfully circumventing technological measures that YouTube has implemented to prevent the downloading or copying of content from the YouTube service. Therefore by engaging in and facilitating the unlawful infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings, YTMP3 deprives Plaintiffs (and other copyright owners) of the benefits of their investment in these valuable works and interferes with and creates a substitute for legitimate streaming and download services that are authorized by Plaintiffs.
Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants. For example, Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that Defendants – working with services such as Google’s “AdSense” program and Google’s “DoubleClick” service – profit from third-party advertising that targets users based on the users’ location (geo-targeting) or based on the users’ prior internet browsing history (interest-based targeting). Such targeted advertising maximizes the “click-through” rate of advertisements on the YTMP3 website (i.e., the number of visitors to the site who then “click” on an advertisement appearing on the site), thereby generating substantial revenues and profits to Defendants through their operation of the website.
As believe plaintiffs YTMP3 is the chief offender, accounting for upwards of 40% of all unlawful stream ripping that takes place in the world. Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that, in order to access the YouTube video and extract and copy the audio track, YTMP3 circumvents the technological measures that YouTube has implemented to control access to content maintained on its site and to prevent or inhibit illicit activities such as stream ripping. Among other things, Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that YTMP3 employs a means to circumvent the YouTube rolling cipher technology described above, and other technological means that YouTube employs to protect content on its site.
Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that in addition to distributing MP3 audio files to users, Defendants also make and store copies of the files on their servers for further distribution to other users. By providing and operating their service, Defendants are both directly infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights and are inducing and materially contributing to the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights by others and derive financial benefit from that infringement. Defendants have the right and ability to supervise and stop the infringing activity but they have taken no steps to stop the infringement. Rather, Defendants designed and continue to operate their service to optimize its usefulness for infringement.
Plaintiffs believe the motivation behind Defendants’ illegal conduct is clear: Defendants are receiving a direct financial benefit from the copyright infringement occurring on their service. Defendants are liable as contributory copyright infringers for the infringing acts of users of the YTMP3 website. Defendants have actual and constructive knowledge of the infringing activity of YTMP3’s users. Defendants knowingly cause and otherwise materially contribute to these unauthorized reproductions and distributions of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings.
Defendants are vicariously liable for the infringing acts of users of the YTMP3 website. Defendants have the right and ability to supervise and control the infringing activities that occur through the use of YTMP3, and at all relevant times have derived a direct financial benefit from the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights. Defendants are therefore vicariously liable for the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings.
Defendants are liable under the Copyright Act for inducing the infringing acts of the users of YTMP3. Defendants operate the YTMP3 website with the objective of promoting its use to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights. In addition, Defendants have failed to take any meaningful action to prevent the widespread and rapidly growing infringement by their users and in fact have taken affirmative steps to encourage, promote, and assist infringement by their users.
Plaintiffs pray for judgment against Defendants for a declaration that Defendants, both directly and secondarily, willfully infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights; for a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction requiring that Defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and others in active concert or participation with each or any of them, (a) cease infringing, or causing, enabling, facilitating, encouraging, promoting and inducing or participating in the infringement of, any of Plaintiffs’ copyrights protected by the Copyright Act, whether now in existence or hereafter created; (b) cease circumventing, or causing, enabling, facilitating, encouraging, promoting, and inducing or participating in the circumvention of, any technological measure maintained by YouTube that effectively controls access to Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works; and (c) surrender, and cease to use, the domain name of www.youtube-mp3.org, and any variant thereof owned or controlled by Defendants; for statutory damages; for Plaintiffs’ costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.