A huge coalition of recording labels has sued the world's leading YouTube ripping site. The IFPI, RIAA, and BPI in the UK say they are taking legal action against YouTube-MP3 to protect the rights of artists and labels. The site has a reported 60 million monthly visitors and is said to be "raking in millions" in advertising revenues.

Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube.

The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from ‘pirate’ sites. Given today’s breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence.

Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world’s largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights.

“YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3’s users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3’s servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones,” the complaint reads.

The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property.

“Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels add.

And it’s very clear that the labels mean business. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures.

Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3’s domain name to be surrendered.

“This is a coordinated action to protect the rights of artists and labels from the blatant infringements of YouTube-mp3, the world’s single-largest ‘stream ripping’ site,” says IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore.

“Music companies and digital services today offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – over hundreds of services with scores of millions of tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream ripping sites should not be allowed jeopardize this.”

Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says that YouTube-MP3 is making money on the back of their business and needs to be stopped.

“This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels. We are doing our part, but everyone in the music ecosystem who says they believe that artists should be compensated for their work has a role to play,” Sherman says.

“It should not be so easy to engage in this activity in the first place, and no stream ripping site should appear at the top of any search result or app chart.”

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor says that it’s time for web services and related companies to stop supporting similar operations.

“It’s time to stop illegal sites like this building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels. Fans have access now to a fantastic range of legal music streaming services, but they can only exist if we take action to tackle the online black market,” Taylor says.

“We hope that responsible advertisers, search engines and hosting providers will also reflect on the ethics of supporting sites that enrich themselves by defrauding creators.”

TorrentFreak contacted YouTube-MP3 owner Philip Matesanz for comment but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.