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UK music industry celebrates court victory over two hundred million quid-stealing ‘pirates’

music piracy
(Image credit: Thana Prasongsin)

The phrases ‘cyber locker’ and ‘stream ripper’ might largely be unfamiliar to you - and us, if we’re honest - but they’re in the news today as UK music industry bosses celebrate a brace of landmark court victories in the on-going fight against music piracy. 

Following an online hearing, the High Court has ruled that cyberlocker and stream ripping sites, and a stream ripping app, MP3 Studio, infringe UK copyright and ordered internet companies to block them.

The two rulings will ultimately benefit artists, songwriters, music publishers and record companies who suffer annual piracy losses of £200 million. 

The cases were brought by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) against a major ’cyberlocker’ Nitroflare, and a number of stream ripping sites. Cyberlockers are designed to encourage and reward users to upload music and other copyright material, and illegally share links to it with others to download. Illegal stream ripping sites rip songs from YouTube/Facebook/Instagram and facilitate downloading, enabling users to listen to the music illegally, without making any payments to songwriters, performers, music publishers and record companies.

The court ruling means that sites such as ‘Flvto’ (with an average 58 million annual UK visits over the last three years), ‘2Conv’ (25 million annual UK visits), ‘Flv2mp3’ (1.7 million annual UK visits) and ‘H2Converter’ (700,000 annual UK visits), plus the downloadable app provider ‘MP3 Studio’ (1.2 million annual UK visits) will now be blocked by the UK’s biggest internet service providers. 

Responding to the ruling, the BPI’s Chief Executive Geoff Taylor says: “Illegal sites, including stream rippers and cyberlockers, rip hundreds of millions of pounds from the music economy in the UK every year and hold back the growth of the UK’s legal streaming market. The BPI takes action on multiple fronts for labels and artists to ensure that platforms that use music pay fairly, but we would like Government to set a clear duty of care on digital platforms to prevent illegal content appearing on their services, and make it simpler, cheaper and faster for creators to take action against the illegal use of their work. This can make the UK the best country in the world to invest in music and to be a music fan.”

“This result is good news for artists and performers,” says the UK Minister for Intellectual Property, Amanda Solloway, “and I am grateful to BPI for its defence of our country’s intellectual property laws. These ‘stream ripping’ providers steal hundreds of millions of pounds which should be going to our world-renowned music industry. The Government will continue working closely with the music industry to combat piracy, protect jobs and maintain one of the strongest intellectual property frameworks in the world.”