GitHub has taken the code of the widely used open-source project Youtube-dl offline. This emerges from a DMCA request from the US music association RIAA. The takedown will not only affect the code of the upstream project, but also some forks from Youtube-dl created on Github.
Youtube-dl is a Python script used to download video files from YouTube and other video hosting websites. It is one of the most popular projects on GitHub. It has been starred 7.2k times and has been forked 1.2k times.
In the RIAA’s letter, published on Github, the association argues that the code’s clear goal is to circumvent the “technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube.” In addition, the Python tool is used to “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use.” This is justified with reference to the readme file of the project, in which some music videos are listed as examples.
The RIAA does not argue that YouTube-dl directly violates the rights of its members, but that the tool makes this possible and is therefore basically completely illegal. In fact, the tool can easily be used for that very purpose. However, Youtube-dl also allows legal downloads, for example, of works under CC license or public domain.
Whether the development team from Youtube-dl will take legal action against the RIAA or GitHub and what options there are is currently still completely unclear. One of the supervisors of the project in the Python package archive Pypi, the Google employee Filippo Valsorda, however, clearly expressed himself their anger on Twitter.
The code last published by Youtube-dl can still be found on Pypi and in other sources, such as Linux distributions or the homebrew project for macOS.
However, it is questionable how long this code will work despite changes to YouTube and other platforms. It is also currently not foreseeable whether the project will continue to exist with another service or hosted by the community itself.