Much to the delight of some in the music industry, YouTube has now confirmed stepping up its anti-piracy efforts, particularly piracy involving "stream ripping," sources report.
The company has been under pressure from lawmakers and music industry executives for quite some time to implement measures to stop the practice — which involves ripping license music from videos on the site, often through third-party services and sites. That's included putting policies in place to stop piracy of officially licensed music by those means. Now, it's seeking to 'enforce' those policies and blocking at least some sites that will convert YouTube videos to MP3 files for offline consumption.
The industry itself seems to be happy with the measure and Recording Industry Association of America head Mitch Glazier has stepped forward with a statement lauding the effort, which began to take effect last week. Mr. Glazier says that shutting down "illegal stream-ripping" is one of the most effective tools for protecting legitimate use of licensed music, the artists, and streaming services for which that music is used.
Is this going to be effective?
Whether or not this latest effort is effective remains to be seen. That's a sentiment mirrored by Mr. Glazier and YouTube itself has been relatively vague on details surrounding exactly how it is blocking videos on its sites from being de-streamed into playable offline audio files.
The measures do not seem to have any impact on whether or not a paid YouTube or YouTube Music subscriber can download the tracks for themselves. It's also not clear whether or not apps and other software will be able to rip the music from those downloads.
The underlying basis of policy enforcement seems to rely on users attempting to download music through third-parties. Sources are reporting that those websites have begun to see errors and block messages on their servers, with at least one site reporting that error to be classified as an "HTTP Error 429: Too Many Requests" issue on their end. That seems to suggest that YouTube is blocking stream-ripping using a request count on the access to the media from external servers.
It could just as easily be blocking requests on a per-site basis, although that would undoubtedly be less effective so the most likely solution seems to be that the media giant is doing both or something else entirely. It simply hasn't said.
Cracking down across the board
Music and music videos aren't the only protective measures the Google subsidiary has put in place to crack down on problems that its platform has facilitated or given rise to. Among other problem areas, the company is attempting to circumvent include videos containing pranks or challenges that are potentially dangerous to viewers or YouTubers.
Perhaps a more pressing matter, the company is also starting to look at the pervasiveness of the promotion of content containing children on the site and in the app. Such content has frequently brought to light concerns of abuse by predatory users and pedophiles taking advantage of its recommendation algorithms.
That content could be removed outright in the future and some lawmakers have proposed middle-ground measures that would see that content demonetized and removed from the recommendations process to keep them from surfacing.
No final decision has been made on that issue yet, either.