GitHub Reinstates YouTube-dl Video Downloader After RIAA Complaint

GitHub has reinstated an open source tool for downloading YouTube videos, and it has changed its policies to make similar copyright takedowns less likely. Yesterday, the Microsoft-owned software repository rolled back its removal of YouTube-dl, which allows users to save local copies of streaming videos from YouTube and many other sites.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) demanded that GitHub remove YouTube-dl in late October. He alleged that the tool “was designed and is marketed” to illegally save copyrighted music, in violation of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. GitHub initially agreed, but its decision drew criticism from journalists and software developers. As TechDirt chronic, YouTube-dl is valuable for journalists who document content that may be flagged for deletion, and for the Electronic Frontier Foundation say that it is valuable for teachers and people whose internet connections are not stable enough to stream videos.

GitHub found these arguments compelling. “Although we initially pulled the project out, we understand that just because the code can be used to access copyrighted works doesn’t mean it can’t also be used to access copyrighted works. works in a non-infringing manner ‘ writes platform policy director Abby Vollmer. Vollmer notes that the developers of YouTube-dl also patched their software to remove references to copyrighted works. “When we see that it is possible to modify a project to remove allegedly infringing content, we give owners the opportunity to resolve issues before removing the content. “

GitHub is legally bound to follow section 1201, which prohibits tools intended to bypass copy protections. But there are also several legal exceptions to Section 1201, including breaking copy protection for educational and accessibility purposes. And following the incident with YouTube-dl, GitHub formalizes a complaints assessment policy. “Every credible 1201 withdrawal request will be reviewed by technical experts” and legal experts, writes Vollmer. It also creates and donates $ 1 million to a developer advocacy fund for open source developers who wish to challenge complaints.

But Vollmer encouraged changes to Section 1201 itself – a move supported by many advocates of copyright reform. “No matter what we do to protect the rights of developers, we must always work within the limits of the law,” she writes.

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