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Record labels sue popular YouTube audio-ripping site

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A group of record labels, including UMG, Sony Music, and Warner Bros., have filed a copyright infringement claim against a YouTube stream-ripping website, the BBC reports. The website, youtube-mp3.org, converts YouTube streams to mp3 audio files. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) calls the stream-ripping site the "world's largest," with more than 60 million users per month. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has given YouTube-mp3 "formal notice of intended legal action," according to the BBC.

The legal papers filed claim the scale of YouTube-mp3's copyright infringement is "enormous," and says the site is responsible for "upwards of 40 percent" of all the illegal stream-ripping in the world. The record labels want the company to pay $150,000 for each instance of copyright infringement, or all of YouTube-mp3's profits from the infringement, which would be proven at trial.

Sugar Ray's "When it's Over" is one popular illegal download

The claim also features 304 songs that the labels believe have been illegally ripped by YouTube-mp3, including James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," Sugar Ray's "When it's Over," and Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On."

"This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels," Cary Sherman, the CEO of RIAA, said in a statement. "We are doing our part, but everyone in the music ecosystem who says they believe that artists should be compensated for their work has a role to play. It should not be so easy to engage in this activity in the first place, and no stream ripping site should appear at the top of any search result or app chart."

This is not the first time record labels have tried to take on copyright infringement online. Earlier this year, Vimeo won a lawsuit against Sony Music and others that alleged Vimeo's "lip dub" feature of popular songs constituted a copyright violation. In 2014, major labels sued Pandora over royalties for songs recorded before 1972 that often played on the service's oldies stations.