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GitHub Takes Down And Then Put’s YouTube-dl Back Up

Mon Nov 23 2020

Following Intervention from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, GitHub felt confident enough to make the downloader available again…

Microsoft owned GitHub decided last week to make the popular YouTube-dl downloader tool available again after a three-week absence after intervention from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a NonProfit organisation dedicated to defending digital privacy, free speech and innovation online.

It had taken the tool down three weeks previously from its code hosting portal after receiving a complaint regarding copyright from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

After extended consultation with the EFF however, GitHub felt the tool didn’t violate technical protocol measures put in place by YouTube and so decided to make it available again.

YouTube-dl is a Python library that makes it simple for someone to download video and audio files of YouTube videos.

 

The RIAA however, a trade organisation who claimed to represent around 85% of all US recording artists, felt they had enough grounds to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request against YouTube-dl as the tool was allowing people to:

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Reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings [...] without authorisation and circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorised streaming services such as YouTube.

RIAA Complaint

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After receiving the complaint, GitHub originally removed YouTube-dl’s code from their platform, causing a massive uproar amongst fans of the tool, who quickly leapt to its defence, creating copies and hosting them in GitLab and elsewhere in GitHub.

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YouTube-dl is a powerful general purpose media tool that allows users to make local copies of media from a very broad range of sites. That versatility has secured it a place in the toolkits of many reporters, newsroom developers, and archivists.

Parker Higgins - Freedom of the Press member

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GitHub restored the tool though after receiving advice from EFF lawyers that the YouTube-dl repository didn’t breach the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and that there were many errors in the RIAA’s original complaint.

The complaint resolved around users attempting to circumnavigate copyright protection measures but as YouTube didn’t have any measures in the first place, YouTube-dl couldn’t be circumnavigating anything.

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At GitHub, our priority is supporting open source and the developer community. And so we share developers' frustration with this takedown—especially since this project has many legitimate purposes.

GitHub Spokesperson

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Mon Nov 23 2020

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