(CBS News) Google has reportedly blocked access to a site that converts YouTube music videos into MP3s.
File conversion site YouTube-MP3.org claims that Google has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the site's owners and has blocked the YouTube-MP3.org's servers from accessing YouTube.
YouTube-MP3.org is a site where users copy a YouTube web address onto a form and the site converts the video in to an MP3 file.
YouTube-MP3.org's administrator claims it does not use YouTube's application programming interface (API). If it is using YouTube's API, the site could be violating YouTube's terms of service, which prohibits developers from separating, isolating or modifying the audio or video component of any YouTube content made available through API.
Other than possibly violating YouTube's terms of service, the site is potentially violating copyright laws. Organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) are paying attention.
According to CNET, the top four record companies have pressured Google, YouTube's parent company, to take action against sites that covert online videos into audio files.
The RIAA's report suggests that the organization would like to have YouTube pull down any content that would enable copyright infringement.
"Increasingly, music-oriented videos posted on YouTube include links to download the sound recording associated with the video illegally," the RIAA wrote. "This is in violation of YouTube's own policies. In addition, YouTube hosts videos explaining how to 'game' the Content ID system and how to rip the audio content to create an MP3 file from a music video."
Google is caught in delicate dance of protecting the Internet from censorship, while helping organizations like the RIAA discourage copyright infringement.
"We have always taken violations of our Terms of Service seriously," a YouTube spokesman told CNET, "and will continue to enforce these Terms of Service against sites that violate them."
It's still unclear if this is an isolated incident or a sign of things to come. The site TorrentFreak reports that other sites have received similar letters.
YouTube-MP3.org's administrators still feel that their service is legal, claiming that "German Courts have ruled that an online recording tool is not different from any [TV] recorder or something [comparable]."