Late last week, copyright holders from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) secured the removal of the youtube-dl project from GitHub. This Python library was used in many tools and services for copying content from YouTube, had more than 72,000 stars on GitHub and was one of the most popular repositories on the site. The library has been removed due to a violation of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act – Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
In total, at the legal request of the RIAA, 18 projects were pulled from GitHub, and all these are repositories related to the youtube-dl project.
AT lettersent to the GitHub leadership, the RIAA states that the main purpose of creating this source code (the youtube-dl library) was to "circumvent the technical security measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube", which allowed users to "play and distribute music videos and sound recordings without permission (copyright holders) ". In particular, the letter lists the following jobs that caused problems:
- Icona Pop – I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) (Official Video), owned by Warner Music Group;
- Justin Timberlake – Tunnel Vision (Explicit), owned by Sony Music Group;
- Taylor Swift – Shake it Off, owned / exclusively licensed by Universal Music Group.
The document emphasizes that the source code of the project "directly assumes its use for copying and / or distribution of works protected by copyright."
As a result, the RIAA, which represents the interests of about 85% of the entire recording industry in the United States, demanded that youtube-dl, along with all forks, be immediately removed from GitHub. Thus, the youtube-dl library itself and 17 copies of the project, listed in the RIAA letter, were removed from GitHub:
Interestingly, although the RIAA letter was classified as a DMCA violation request on GitHub, this is actually not the case. According to John Bergmeier, a specialist at the non-profit organization Public Knowledge, the RIAA does not claim that this library violates its rights, but claims that the library itself is illegal.
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 https://t.co/vQ16nVleCf
– John Bergmayer (@bergmayer) October 23, 2020
Meanwhile, representatives of Freedom of the Press write that youtube-dl was actively used by Internet archivists, who, for example, used a tool to download violent videos before these videos were removed from YouTube for violating site rules. The library was also often used to download free documentaries, public domain videos, and so on.
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.
– Parker Higgins (@xor) October 23, 2020
Currently, youtube-dl sources can still be downloaded from official site project, or using the Internet Archive. In addition, users distribute the source on Twitter and other social networks, for example, in the form of pictures.
convert -depth 8 yt_dl1.png rgb: yt_dl1.part
convert -depth 8 yt_dl2.png rgb: yt_dl2.part
cat yt_dl1.part yt_dl2.part> yt_dl-2020.9.20.tar.gz pic.twitter.com/7wB3VZomBj
– ░ 𝕔𝕒𝕥 / 𝕕𝕖𝕧 / 𝕤𝕡𝕠𝕠𝕜𝕪 ░ (@GalacticFurball) October 23, 2020