A popular tool for archiving YouTube videos, YouTube-dl, was removed from GitHub after the Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit arguing that the code was inherently copyrighted.
GitHub, owned by Microsoft, removed 18 projects on Friday that previously hosted versions of YouTube-dl, a Python library that can be used to download YouTube video and audio files. These repositories now display the message "This repository is currently disabled due to a DMCA deactivation notification. We have disabled public access to the repository." Displayed.
While the announcement is classified as a DMCA issue, the RIAA's Friday announcement does not claim that YouTube-dl is a copyright infringement. Instead, it claims that the code itself is in violation of another section of US (as well as German) copyright law because the "clear purpose of this source code is … to bypass the technological protections used by authorized individuals. " Streaming services such as YouTube and (to) reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings from our member companies without permission for such use. "
The RIAA notice specifically cites three examples in the youtube dl documentation and source code referencing copyrighted music videos by Icona Pop, Justin Timberlake, and Taylor Swift, all of which are represented by RIAA member labels, to support the claim support .
The memory hole
The RIAA is not wrong that youtube-dl exists as a technological workaround for streaming-only video, and it would be a lie to suggest that no one is using it to less than legitimately help themselves with music – people absolutely do. However, youtube-dl is not just designed for this purpose as the RIAA claims. Activists, historians, and content creators also often use the tool for valid archival purposes.