Youtube users often use downloaders or converters to rip videos from the website and convert to an audio MP3 format.
In essence, this lets people listen to music for free on their phone – but the practice has been criticised as it also rips off the music industry almost to the point of breaking.
Illegal online music downloads have been a big problem for musicians and producers who want to be paid for their work.
Youtube converters are quick, extremely easy and anonymous, with users able to download and convert any song or video into an audio MP3 file on Youtube.
But was is the rule on converting Youtube videos and could you be fined for using it?
Is it legal to convert Youtube videos to MP3?
Youtube is one of the most popular websites in the world – with more than 300 hours of footage uploaded every single minute.
Five billion videos are watched around the world each day, with the vast majority of viewers being between 18 and 49-years-old.
A large quantity of videos uploaded to Youtube are music videos, with many popular artists using the platform to promote their new music outside of services like Spotify and iTunes, both of which require you to pay to download music.
Youtube, however, is free and it gives you instant stream access to any video in its archive, so long as you don’t download it.
Technically, it is not illegal to convert a Youtube video to MP3 – but it is illegal to download a copyrighted music video.
But Youtube has said that ‘stream-ripping’ is a violation of their Terms of Service and both Youtube and Google have attempted to shut down several websites that offer converter services.
Youtube once threatened to take popular converter site youtube-mp3.org to court in an attempt to stop people ripping music for free, but nothing ever came of it.
Youtube withdrew the claim and youtube-mp3.org is still one of the most popular converter sites online.
Using a Youtube converter to download a personal copy is against US copyright law, keeping the music industry afloat and stopping people from downloading music for free without punishment.
Could you be fined for converting a Youtube video to MP3?
Again, it is legal to download a converted Youtube video to MP3, it is just against their Terms of Service.
The practice is only illegal if it is a song under copyright law, in which case there is a chance you could be fined.
No one has yet been hunted down by Youtube or any production company yet, but the ongoing discussion of the music industry and illegal downloads means that this debate will likely soon come to an end.