Google is threatening to sue a major site that allows users to rip YouTube videos and record them as MP3 files.
YouTube-mp3.com allows users to copy and paste a YouTube URL and have it converted to an MP3 in just three or four minutes.
The company insists its service is legal, but has had all its servers blocked from accessing YouTube. Google claims that the service violates its terms of service and has sent the company a cease-and-desist letter.
YouTube-mp3.com claims it has tens of millions of users, and that as many as 200 million people worldwide use similar services.
"Google doesn't just ignore all those people they are about to criminalize them," says the site's owner, Philip Matesanz .
"With the way they are interpreting and created their TOS everyone of those 200 million users is threatened to be sued by Google."
He points out that Google isn't exactly averse to copying things itself, with its Google Books initiative, for example.
"Another great service but there are also publishers and authors that don't want their books to be scanned. Does Google care about this? Of course they don't. Our service on the other hand is requested and used by millions of people," he says.
"Our [German] government has publicly recommended its citizens to make use of so called YouTube recorders/converters."
Google's API terms of service do stipulate that users mustn't separate, isolate or modify audio or video components of any content. What's interesting, though, is why Google's decided to take a stand on the issue now - after all, such services have been around for quite a while.
The move may have something to do with YouTube's recent deals with music publishers giving them greater copyright peotection.