Australia’s recording industry is taking the legal route to take down so-called “stream ripping” services.

Never heard of stream ripping? You’re in the minority. It’s the process of creating a permanent file from streaming content and, according to the industry, and it’s by far the most prevalent form of online music copyright infringement. Right now, it’s the arch enemy of the record business.

Stream-ripped files can be created with apps, websites, plug-ins and specially-developed software and, once saved, can be played offline on any digital device. These enablers are what the music biz is targeting.

According to multiple reports published this week, the Australian music industry is organising a Federal Court action targeting four “stream-ripping” platforms, while several film companies are orchestrating another application, which identifies scores of torrent and streaming sites.

Copyright protection body Music Rights Australia is coordinating the music industry’s effort, with support from APRA and the domestic affiliates of the three music majors, Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music.

MRA Rhonda Davidson-Irwin
Music Rights Australia CEO Rhonda Davidson-Irwin

Specifically, the application for injunction has been brought under Section 115a of the Copyright Act, which, if successful, would force Internet service providers to block their customers from accessing stream ripping sites.

The music industry has filed applications under Section 115a to block dodgy services in the past (remember KickassTorrents?), and with the legislation going through a significant upgrade last year, legals for the music community will be confident they have a strong case.

If approved, the new injunction would affect customers of Optus, Telstra, TPG (including AAPT, iiNet and Internode) and Vodafone, according to Computerworld, which broke the story and published the list of domains in the Australian music companies’ application. Foxtel is also listed as a respondent.

“These no fault injunctions are used to block the worst of the illegal sites which undermine the local and international music industry,” a Music Rights Australia spokesperson told Computerworld.

“We use this effective and efficient no fault remedy to block the illegal sites which undermine the many licensed online services which give music fans the music they love where, when and how they want to hear it,” the spokesperson continued.

ARIA declined further comment on the matter, and there’s no timeline on when the court would make orders to block these sites.

Stream ripping has earned its “enemy of the industry” status over several years. In the IFPI’s 2018 Music Consumer Insight Report, researchers found more than one-third (38%) of all consumers got their tunes through infringing channels, with stream ripping the dominant method (32%). A separate study conducted by IFPI and Ipsos found that stream ripping sites were a particularly big hit with the youth, with 53 per cent of all 16-24 year-olds getting their music this way.

“Stream ripping sites blatantly infringe the rights of record companies and artists,” IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore declared when YouTube-mp3.org, the industry’s one-time enemy No. 1, was taken down in 2017 through legal action from record companies in the U.S. and U.K.

A report published 15 months ago in the U.K. found stream-ripping grew by more than 140% in the years from 2014-2016 and account for almost 70% of all music-specific infringements in that market.

Read more here.