GitHub removes YouTube video download tools after RIAA notice
According to the RIAA, these tools were aimed at circumventing YouTube’s measures to prevent piracy.
GitHub will no longer feature the source code for YouTube-DL, a well-known tool that is widely used for downloading videos from YouTube. You will also no longer find forks or copies of the YouTube-DL.
Microsoft-owned code hosting platform made the changes following a legal request from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). According to reports, GitHub has taken down at least 18 such projects.
The RIAA has claimed that YouTube-DL violated Section 1201 of the US copyright law. In its letter to GitHub, the RIAA said that the objective of such code was to “circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorised streaming services such as YouTube.”
It added that the codes were allowed “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorisation for such use."
I should say: Github has categorized the RIAA letter as a DMCA notice, but it's not really — that term generally describes communications sent pursuant to §512. This letter is about the §1201, the controversial anticircumvention rules.— Parker Higgins (@xor) October 23, 2020
The decision to take down YouTube-DL has met with a sharp reaction from the industry experts. ZDNet in its report pointed out that the RIAA letter was classified as a DMCA takedown request, but it was not one.
“This isn't really a DMCA request. I don't see an assertion that youtube-dl is an infringing work. Rather the claim is that it's illegal per se,” wrote Public Knowledge Legal Director John Bergmayer in a tweet.
“As anyone who has used youtube-dl knows, it is an extremely powerful and useful tool for format-shifting. It's super popular among archivists and has incredibly broad fair use applications. The RIAA stance here is pretty aggressive and out there,” said Freedom of the Press member Parker Higgins.
It is worth noting that the YouTube-DL project had more than 72,000 stars on GitHub before it was taken down.