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Hollywood Docket: Google vs. YouTube-Rippers; 'Scare Tactics' Spat; Summer in 'Jersey Shore' Court

A roundup of entertainment law news.


Google is warning about "legal consequences" for a website that extracts audio from YouTube clips and makes these MP3s available for download. The web giant has sent a letter demanding that YouTube-MP3.org cease attempting to "separate, isolate, or modify the audio or video components of any YouTube audiovisual content," according to TorrentFreak.

The website attracts an estimated 1.3 million visitors every day. The extraction is being used, among other ways, to rip songs from music videos on YouTube.

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Google isn't standing for it, telling the site's operators that the service violates its terms of service. Google reportedly also has blocked YouTube-MP3's servers from accessing its video-sharing site and has begun targeting other sites with a similar service.

The entertainment industry has had many stern words on the copyright front for Google of late, and some are questioning why Google has suddenly become so aggressive on protection. "Since when [is] Google now owned by the RIAA and MPAA?" asks one commentator on TorrentFreak's website.

Philip, the individual who reportedly owns YouTube-MP3.com, isn't happy with the development either.

“We would estimate that there are roughly 200 million people across the world that make use of services like ours, and Google doesn’t just ignore all those people, they are about to criminalize them," he says. "With the way they are interpreting and creating their [terms of service], every one of those 200 million users is threatened to be sued by Google."

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In other entertainment legal news:

  • Israelis vs. Arabs is a story that has been told before, but not over the use of music on radio. An Israeli music guild is accusing one of the country's leading Arabic-language media outlets of not paying royalties on hundreds of songs played online. The dispute has sparked a lawsuit, and a court has issued a temporary restraining order. The Israeli music guild is a co-plaintiff along with French guild Sacem.
  • The producers of the Syfy show Scare Tactics are trying to frighten PIX/SEE Productions out of using Scare Tactics as the title of an upcoming film. The defendant allegedly registered ScareTacticsTheMovie.com in March and is said to be readying a film described as "hypnotherapy brings horror to an amnesiac writer." Plaintiff WMTI Productions is upset that searchers on Google and IMDb are getting confused, and it is suing for various causes under the Lanham Act.
  • Fresh off his victory over oil-spill technology, Kevin Costner is now the defendant in a lawsuit that claims his planted trees are blocking his neighbors' Pacific Ocean view. Costner is not the first to be charged with being a bad celebrity neighbor.
  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has announced that it has obtained a nearly $2.3 million verdict on behalf of a Brazilian businessman suing over being allegedly fraudulently induced into investing money in Good News Holding, a defunct faith-based entertainment company. The defendants included David Kirkpatrick, former president of Paramount Pictures. The law firm also is celebrating the fact that partner Charlies Biederman won a beauty contest to represent 120 contestants on the third season of NBC’s The Voice.
  • No doubt about this, Jersey Shore isn't merely good for MTV ratings; the show also is propping up the New Jersey bar -- lawyers, we mean. Many cast members will be finding time this summer to get away from the sun and into court for coming hearings.