with CLIPREVIEWED learn the articleGitHub Restores Youtube-dl, a Video Downloading Tool Ensnared in DMCA Dispute
GitHub is reinstating a popular YouTube video downloader called Youtube-dl on its website.
GitHub removed Youtube-dl last month, citing a DMCA takedown from the Recording Industry Association of America, which claimed the program can enable users to make illegal copies of music from YouTube. But on Monday, GitHub backtracked and restored the open-source software project.
In a blog post, GitHub said it took down Youtube-dl because the RIAA claimed the software was designed to circumvent “technological measures” protecting videos from unauthorized copying. Doing so violates Section 1201 of the DMCA, which was originally crafted in the late 1990s.
However, GitHub rescinded the decision after receiving a letter from digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which argued Youtube-dl wasn’t breaking Section 1201 at all. The group points out the software tool cannot decrypt video streams protected with anti-piracy commercial DRM technologies used by companies such as Netflix.
GitHub sided with the EFF while noting Youtube-dl has plenty of legitimate purposes. This includes helping people download clips in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license. At the same time, journalists and human rights defenders rely on the tool to save eyewitness videos from the web.
GitHub CEO Nat Friedman also said it was important to stand up for open-source developers, which are GitHub’s main customer base. “Developers should have the freedom to tinker. That’s how you get great tools like Youtube-dl,” he wrote in a tweet.
The decision is also a win for YouTube users. The video-streaming service offers no easy way to to download clips from the service. So you have to rely on third-party tools.
GitHub said Youtube-dl developers have patched the project to remove a section that the RIAA originally cited in its DMCA takedown request. In addition, GitHub said it’s overhauling how it reviews future requests to pull software projects allegedly in violation of Section 1201 of the DMCA. Now a team of technical and legal experts will review each claim to ensure the takedown requests hold water.
“In the case where the claim is ambiguous, we will err on the side of the developer, and leave up the repository unless there is clear evidence of illegal circumvention,” GitHub said.
The company is also setting up a $1 million legal defense fund to protect software developers from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims.
The RIAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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