YouTube Seizes the Domain of Stream-Ripper Youtubeconverter.io

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Photo Credit: Christian Wiediger

YouTube has officially seized the domain of stream-ripping platform Youtubeconverter.io.

The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently ruled to transfer Youtubecoverter.io to YouTube, which formally submitted the underlying complaint to WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center on December 23rd, 2020. A name-related mistake in this initial complaint prompted additional communications between the domain name’s registrar and the Mediation Center, and YouTube then filed an amended complaint, featuring the correct name, on the 29th.

The Vietnam-based owner of Youtubeconverter.io, which was created on October 4th, 2018, allowed website visitors to access tools that enabled “the conversion and downloading of videos and audios from the ‘YouTube’ platform,” according to WIPO. Additionally, the same source states that the platform displayed “pay-per-click advertisements unrelated to” YouTube.

In terms of the actual complaint against Youtubeconverter.io, YouTube described the stream-ripping platform’s domain name as “confusingly similar” to its own web address, per WIPO’s summary. Furthermore, YouTube indicated that the video-to-audio conversion service had “no rights or legitimate interests” in the domain name, given that it lacked authorization to utilize the trademarked “YouTube.”

The Google subsidiary also maintained that Youtubeconverter.io had “directly” violated its terms of service by encouraging visitors to download videos’ audio, besides allegedly acting in bad faith by generating revenue with the aforementioned pay-per-click adverts.

Youtubeconverter.io’s owner didn’t officially respond to YouTube’s allegations by the January 19th deadline, and the sole WIPO panelist who decided the matter determined that the stream-ripping platform’s name was in fact confusingly similar to YouTube’s own title. Additionally, this lone arbitrator agreed that Youtubeconverter.io had acted in bad faith when registering and using the domain name without a license from Google/YouTube.

In closing, WIPO ordered the domain name’s transfer to YouTube – albeit while acknowledging that Youtubeconverter.io’s homepage was continuing to direct visitors to an “identical” stream-ripping service, ytconv.cc. The .cc suffix is the top-level domain for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

More broadly, the music industry’s long-running effort to eliminate stream-ripping platforms is showing few signs of slowing down. One of the RIAA’s many ongoing legal battles, a courtroom confrontation with (and filed by) Hartford-based stream-ripping platform Yout, centers on YouTube’s “rolling cipher” technology.

The major labels’ much-publicized lawsuit against stream-ripper FLVTO.biz (as well as 2CONV.com and the sites’ Russian owner, Tofig Kurbanov), which initiated in 2018, has raised interesting jurisdictional questions as of late. To be sure, Kurbanov petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the years-running suit – and demanded that the RIAA file the complaint in his native Russia.

Separately, the music industry is still targeting “fake stream” manipulation services on a large scale, and a Frankfurt court last month issued an injunction against yet another of these platforms, as part of a broader international crackdown.





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