16 September 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Stream-ripping responsible for ‘mammoth’ proportion of music piracy: study

The usage of stream-ripping services—which allow users to illegally create permanent offline copies of streams from platforms—has dramatically increased between 2016 and 2019 in the UK, with YouTube being the most exploited legitimate service, according to a new study.

Overshadowing all other illegal online music activity in the UK, overall usage of stream-ripping services dramatically increased by 1390% between 2016 and 2019, according to UK music copyright collective PRS for Music.

Simon Bourn, head of IP and litigation at PRS for Music, said: “This report shows that music piracy is very much still alive and kicking, and that stream-ripping is now responsible for a mammoth proportion of the overall piracy problem.”

Online rights monitoring company Incopro was commissioned by PRS for Music to produce the study, which found that websites promoting stream-ripping services now account for 80.2% of the 50 most popular music-only infringing sites.

This is an increase of 12% since the collective’s 2016 study on the issue, which also found that YouTube was the most exploited legitimate service. In the latest study, 70 of the 100 services surveyed exclusively offer ‘YouTube ripping’.

Spotify is the second most affected service, overtaking SoundCloud since the 2016 research. Deezer, Amazon Music and Tidal were among other popular licensed platforms most targeted.

A significant portion of stream-ripping usage relates to a single stream-ripping site,, which makes up 47% of the usage across the top 50 music-specific infringing sites.

Enforcement efforts

Of the top 50 music-only infringing sites, there was a notable drop in the proportion of BitTorrent sites, decreasing from 14 to six. “This is likely due to increased geo-blocking and enforcement efforts from the wider music industry,” said the collective.

However, when you look at the 50 top sites which contain music content (including those making music available alongside other types of content), BitTorrent (15) and Cyberlocker (17) host are still the most common categories of sites which contain music content. Stream-ripping services only account for 3 of the top 50 piracy websites.

More than half of the stream-ripping services were found to be based in the US but, PRS for Music, noted that this number may be misleading as 25 of the services use the content delivery network Cloudflare. Cloudflare could mask the true hosting provider’s location, leading to additional challenges for copyright infringement notifications.

Bourn added that while the collective will continue to take all possible measures to prevent stream-ripping services, it also expects others “who are in positions of responsibility within the digital economy”—such as app stores, ad networks and YouTube to—play their part.

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