A total of 18 projects, all of which were related to Youtube-dl, including Youtube-dl itself, were removed from the code hosting platform GitHub yesterday. The reason was a request for removal based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Youtube-dl is a very popular command-line tool for downloading songs and videos from YouTube and other video platforms.
Bypass protective measures
In the letter to GitHub, the RIAA argues that the obvious purpose of the Youtube-DL library is to circumvent technical safeguards used by streaming services such as YouTube to protect the copyright of the works offered there. Youtube-dl allows users to download and distribute music videos and sound recordings without permission.
According to the letter, there are examples in the source code for the use of the library, which explicitly mentions works protected by copyright. If so, then it’s an inexplicable stupid lapse on the part of the developers and probably the death knell for the popular application, because, in my opinion, the case should be watertight in court.
GitHub responds promptly
GitHub complied with the request and removed Youtube-dl and 17 related projects and forks that the RIAA had listed by name. Youtube-dl, one of the most popular repositories on GitHub with 72k stars, is not illegal per se, as the RIAA suggests, but has many legal uses because YouTube not only contains copyrighted material but also tons of content from the field Public domain.
The concern about using a DMCA takedown notice to remove software that does not in itself constitute copyright infringement is that it creates a precedent that lays the foundation for future abuse of the DMCA.
The official download from Youtube-dl via the project homepage is no longer available. If you still have the package on your computer or can still obtain it from a mirror server, you can continue to use it. However, there will probably no longer be any updates, so over time users run the risk of cybercriminals developing attack scenarios for the software. Also, Google and other providers of video platforms could block the tool and thus shut it down.