GitHub restores popular YouTube downloader three weeks after removal

Finally some good news in this hellish year. GitHub has restored the popular video downloader tool, YouTube-dl, after the company banned it in October. The code-hosting platform said new information about the tool indicates that it does not violate any technical protection measures put in place by YouTube.

Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA), the organization that represents record companies, has released a DCMA takedown notice against the tool. The notice said that YouTube-dl used copyrighted songs from artists such as Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Charlie XCX as examples of videos people can download. In response, GitHub removed the repository hosting YouTube-dl’s code.

However, researchers and activists were furious because they were using this tool for legitimate purposes; mainly for transcribing interviews or archiving important videos without license. Soon, developers started making more copies of the repository and hosting it on sites like GitHub and GitLab.

On Sunday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital rights nonprofit, wrote a letter to GitHub claiming that YouTube-dl doesn’t break any DCMA rules or circumventing YouTube’s technical protections. Additionally, he said the tool only streams a few seconds of an artist’s song to help users check if the software is working, and that’s fair use.

After reading EFF’s letter, GitHub reinstated YouTube-dl and said it was putting several measures in place to prevent such incidents in the future. First, he said that every DCMA 1201 (circumvention of copyright protection systems) claim will be reviewed by experts inside and outside the company.

Secondly, it will require the help of legal experts to decide the limits of DCMA withdrawals. Also, if the case is murky, it will side with the developer until the violation is clearly proven. GitHub will also ask developers to make changes to prevent takedowns, if the claim is proven.

Additionally, the platform is also committing $1 million to protect developers from fraudulent DCMA claims. You can read the announcement from GitHub here.

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