German Student Defies Google Cease-and-Desist with 1 Million Signatures

Google is determined to take down Youtube-mp3.org, a site that rips downloadable mp3 files from streaming YouTube videos. Philip Matesanz, the site's 21-year-old owner, has collected 1.2 million signatures in protest against the action. Will his petition move the search giant?

Matesanz, a German citizen, lodged the petition through Change.org last month after Google sent him a cease-and-desist order claiming that Youtube-mp3.org violated YouTube's terms of service. Since then, Matesanz has collected 1.2 million signatures from all over the world, making his petition one of Change.org's five most-signed petitions. (The speed with which Matesanz gathered the  signatures isn't so surprising, considering that his site gets 1.3 million visits a day on average.) Matesanz plans to deliver the signatures in person.

Matesanz and his lawyers argue that, since Youtube-mp3.org does not use YouTube’s application programming interface, it does not violate YouTube’s terms of service. In addition, the petition cites a legal precedent for the kinds of copies Youtube-mp3.org makes and distributes. YouTube is like a broadcaster, it maintains, and “for decades people were allowed to take a private copy of a public broadcast,” recording songs off the air for their own use.

Will Google listen to Matesanz and his million supporters? Not likely. Google has to answer to major corporations such as Viacom, which do not appreciate unauthorized copying of their material, especially through the Internet.