The Rise of Stream Ripping: The Long Battle for Music Piracy is Not Over Yet
Thu, 11 Jul 2019 || By Satria Aji

Intellectual property, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is defined as “any creations of mind” such as invention, whether it is literature or artistic works that are used in commercial purpose, and with intellectual property rights, the creators are allowed to get benefit from their works, including protection of moral and material interests[1]. For musicians or companies in the creative industry, this plays an essential role to protect their masterpiece, especially in this digital era. One problem with intellectual property in the music industry since the “digitalization” of is music piracy[2]. It lasts for more than ten years, across various platforms: P2P file sharing, unlicensed streaming websites, apps, and the recent trend: stream ripping. MusicWatch reported that in 2018, there are 17 million stream rippers in the U.S, a 13% increase from 15 million in 2017[3].


Why is it hard to tackle?

MusicWatch report acknowledged some reasons of stream ripping: avoidance, unsanctioned acquisition facilitated by a search engine that allows people to get unlicensed music through applications, and offline availability of streaming music. There are two reasons that we can highlight: avoidance and offline availability. In the report, both are principal reasons on why people stream ripped music.

First, it is because people oppose buying tracks or even to pay a music subscription. They do not think that it worth the money, and with the availability of a platform that able them not to do so, they prefer to get unlicensed music. Regarding this issue, the Music Consumer Insight Report released by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in 2018 stated that there are 52% music consumer who streamed music through video streaming on YouTube, while only 28% who paid for audio streaming service, while the rest are using free audio streaming platform[4].

It resulted in a value gap of revenues, a significant mismatch of numbers users, and revenue gained from the platform. Another drawback of the usage of the video streaming platform as the place for music streaming is: it is the central place where music piracy is located. That’s why people love it, they can stream for free and they can keep it forever, listen to it everywhere, with just a single tap away on the software—they already saved some of their incomes from paying subscription fee, which may not able them to keep the song they love if they do pay for it[5].

From there, we move to the second reason: the unavailability of online music in offline mode. This precondition inevitably encouraged people to get unlicensed music. For example, in some paid audio streaming service, the app allows its user to download the music so they can listen to it without an internet connection. However, sometimes, it requires them to re-download the music. Eventually, they only “lend” the music because the user cannot listen to the music outside the app, which may not be suitable to some of them. That is also the possible reason why the P2P file sharing network was so popular because it is even easier to get unlicensed music.

Will it have an ending?

We know that the music industry has responded to this issue from various approaches[6]: by educating people on copyright and the value of music, also by battling online piracy through coordination with law enforcement and policymakers. For example, last January, Australia has successfully started the battle against stream ripping[7]. However, since it is an international issue, it will take coordination from many countries, and it seems that currently, not all countries are prioritizing this problem, so it still takes a long time for this battle to the end.

Read another article by Satria Aji

Editor: Janitra Haryanto


[1] World Intellectual Property Organization. What is Intellectual Property [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[2] Ghoshal, A. (2019). A nostalgic look back at digital music piracy in the 2000s. [Online], Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[3]Eggertsen, C. (2019). Stream-Ripping Music Piracy Up 13% Annually, Says MusicWatch Report. Billboard [Online], Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[4] International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (2018). Music Consumer Insight Report [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[5] Glanz, W. (2018). Music Piracy: No Longer in the Headlines, but Still a Headache. Sound Exchange [Online], Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[6] IFPI, (n.d.). The recording industry's ability to develop the digital marketplace is undermined by piracy. IFPI [Online], Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].

[7] Domanski, H. (2019). Australia set to block over 80 more piracy and stream-ripping sites. Tech Radar [Online] Available at: [Accessed on 5 Juni 2019].