Philip Matesanz, the owner of a YouTube video converter website called YouTube-MP3.org, said Google asked him to shut down operations or face legal action. But he and his users wouldn’t go down without a fight. Now a petition to allow people to record videos on YouTube has received more than 1 million signatures on the social change platform Change.org.
“In the past, people have been able to record TV shows and CDs using home recording equipment,” wrote Matesanz. “Now, YouTube wants to block users doing the same from its site. I launched this petition to make the point that changing technology should not affect peoples’ rights as consumers.”
The 21-year-old computer science student from Wedemark, Germany had created a website that coverted YouTube videos into mp3 files. All it took was a YouTube URL and 3 to 4 minutes to turn the video into a downloadable audio track.
The site was popular, receiving 1.3 million visitors per day, according to Google’s digital advertising service DoubleClick.
In defense of his service, Matesanz drafted the following letter to Google:
For decades people were allowed to take a private copy of a public broadcast. You could record the radio program with a cassette recorder or make a copy of your favorite movie by using a video recorder. All these techniques have been opposed heavily in its early years by the big media companies who didn’t want the public to have such technology. They did describe such technology as criminal and as a threat to their business.
Several years later history is about to repeat: Google has teamed up with the RIAA to make the same claims against all sorts of online recording tools for their 21th century broadcasting service: YouTube (“Broadcast yourself”). Google is taking action against nearly every service that enables its users to create a private copy of a public YouTube broadcast while the RIAA is threatening news media like CNet for promoting such a software.
I hereby ask Google to break their silence and participate in an open and fair discussion with the intention to find a solution that suits the needs of the users.
More specifically, Matesanz is requesting that German minister of consumer protection Ilse Aigne arrange a meeting with Google. “This petition is also directed towards Neelie Kroes who is responsible for the Digital Agenda at the European Comission,” he added.
The “right to record” petition, which is also written in German, French, and Turkish, has received 1,106,028 signatures to date.
“I have been amazed at the response to my petition but surprised that the company has not responded,” Matesanz said in a statement. “I would very much like to sit down with them and discuss this issue.”