U.S. Trade Rep Calls Out Stream-Ripping Websites That Continue To Threaten American Creative Community

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released its annual ‘notorious markets’ report which shines a spotlight on specific sites and physical markets across the globe that specialize in peddling illegal American products such as music and movies. For the second year in a row, USTR highlighted illegal stream-ripping websites.

These websites capture or “rip” a copy of a song available only for streaming on legal websites like YouTube and then provide users a permanent download of the music file.  This year’s report recognizes stream-ripping websites as a “phenomena that continues to threaten legitimate streaming audio and video services, music performers, and composers.” Current studies show that more than half of all 16-24 year olds worldwide have illegally stream-ripped songs from YouTube or other streaming sites, and research firm MusicWatch has estimated a 50% increase in the number of Internet users in the U.S. who stream-ripped music in just two years.

Below is a comment from Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Mitch Glazier on the report:

“We welcome this report which identifies the ‘worst of the worst’ illegal music sites and those that unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the American music community.  The ‘notorious markets’ listed as well as many others pose a systemic threat not only to the American creative industries, but to the growth of the legitimate U.S. streaming economy and our digital future.  We cannot jeopardize the recent growth the music community has worked so hard to achieve by allowing these illicit sites to go unchecked as they succeed in ripping off American creators.

“Most notably, stream-ripping was appropriately included for the second year running as a priority concern that massively imperils the streaming economy.  Stream-ripping has become the number one form of piracy confronting the music industry.  If left unabated, whether by governments or by online platforms that simply turn a blind eye to this problem, the jobs and livelihoods of millions of American creators will be ruined and the future of digital trade stands starkly at risk.

“We greatly appreciate the U.S. government’s spotlight on stream-ripping and for the incredible hard work of Ambassador Lighthizer and other agencies that went into this effort. This exceptional report reflects the Administration’s commitment to the American creative industries and the strong foundation of protection and enforcement that fuels them.”

To read USTR’s full report, please see here.

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