GitHub removed popular YouTube downloader – so developers made more copies
Last week, GitHub removed the popular YouTube video downloader “YouTube-dl” after the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA), the organization that represents record companies, issued a DCMA withdrawal notice. As a result, the code hosting site deleted several repositories.
The RIAA argued that the YouTube-dl repository used technology that violated Section 1201 of copyright laws to illegally obtain licensed content. The notice also states that the developers of the tool used copyrighted songs from artists such as Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Charlie XCX as examples of content that users can download. He also cited a German court ruling that favors the withdrawal.
Then there is the other side of the argument from developers and activists that the tool was for downloading government videos and other resources could use under a Creative Commons License.
Youtube-dl is a legitimate tool with a world of legal uses. To demand his removal from Github is a disappointing and counterproductive move by the RIAA. https://t.co/VUbTokd4cP
– EFF (@EFF) 23 october 2020
YouTuber Quinn Nelson, who runs the Snazzy Labs channel, said he used the tool to archive his own content.
This is nonsense. I used youtube-dl to upload and archive MY OWN CONTENT. It would not have been possible without it. https://t.co/NweQe4OWf9
– Quinn Nelson (@SnazzyQ) October 26, 2020
A report of the press freedom foundation describes how various journalists have used the tool in different ways, ranging from fact-checking to assessing the reach of conspiracy theories. He also said that many journalists used the tool to upload videos for interview transcripts.
[Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election]
While the original YoutTbe-dl repository is still down, there is now hundredsofNewforks of it on GitHub and Gitlab. Security engineer Lance Vick noted that the programmers even exploited a bug to attach the original YouTube-dl source code to GitHub’s repository for DCMA withdrawals.
Hey @GitHub. Remember that security bug where anyone can commit commits to repositories they don’t control? That bug you said you wouldn’t fix?
It was used to attach the “youtube-dl” source code to your own DMCA repository. Enjoy @DMCA.
You both deserve each other.https://t.co/NzlFTAKytp
– Lance R. Vick (@[email protected] ) (@lrvick) 25 october 2020
However, the challenge for these project managers would be to keep up with YouTube code changes so that the tool could download the video unhindered. In addition, for users, it will be difficult to know which project to follow and which tool to download to have the most up-to-date version.