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French decide that stream ripping is legal

by on13 July 2021

Copies fall under the private copying exemption

Downloading music via stream-ripping tools can be perfectly legal, the French Ministry of Culture has confirmed. The resulting copies fall under the private copying exemption.

The French ruling only applies if the stream-ripping service doesn't circumvent technical protection measures, which is a widely contested issue.

Needless to say, Big Content is not impressed with the ruling and is convinced that stream-ripping sites break the law but, in most countries, legal uncertainties remain. In the US, for example, popular stream-ripper has sued the RIAA to have its site declared legal. This case, which remains ongoing, could set an important precedent.

In France, the Ministry of Culture was recently questioned on the stream-ripping issue. Philippe Latombe, a member of the MoDem party, asked the government whether copies downloaded through these services are considered illegal.

The question was part of a broader inquiry into the private copying rules and regulations. These allow people to copy music and movies in exchange for a tax that's paid on storage media and devices including blank CDs, hard disks, and smartphones.

The Ministry of Culture confirmed that, under the right conditions, it's perfectly legal to use stream-ripping services to download music and other media.

"[Stream-ripping] is legal and the resulting copy falls under the exception for private copying as provided by law, if several conditions are met: it must be made from a lawful source at the request of the user, without being stored by the converter, and no circumvention of technical protection measures must be carried out". If these three boxes are ticked, stream-ripping is in the same league as ripping or copying an old-fashioned CD or DVD.

So if you ripped from YouTube the "source" could be considered legal, as artists and labels often upload the videos themselves. The fact the stream-rippers don't permanently store music also makes it safe.

The operator of the stream-rippers FLVto and 2Conv recently said that his site doesn't even store basic logs as that would involve significant costs. The only real question is if the stream-ripper circumvents technical protection measures.


Last modified on 13 July 2021
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