In the old days of piracy, RIAA shutdown notifications were a common thing – I've received a few myself. For the most part, however, this is because tracking pirates has become more difficult. However, the RIAA can still issue nasty grams – to the developers of software that could potentially be used to infringe on copyright, such as: B. YouTube downloader.
One such popular tool that is used by many developers, YouTube-DL, was removed from GitHub for the time being after an RIAA threat, as Parker Higgins of the Freedom of the Press Foundation noted earlier today.
However, this is a different type of shutdown than the one we all remember from the early 2000s. These were the myriad of DMCA notices that said, "Your website hosts such and such proprietary content. Please remove it." And they still exist, of course, but a lot of it has been automated, and sites like YouTube remove harmful videos before they even go public.
What the RIAA has done here is the request for YouTube -DL is shut down because it violates Section 1201 of US copyright law, which fundamentally prohibits things related to DRM. "Nobody may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."
Hence, it is illegal not only to distribute a bootleg Blu-ray disc but also to break its protection and duplicate it.
Expanding on that logic a little, it ends up adding things like YouTube-DL, a command line tool that picks up a YouTube URL and directs the user to the raw video and audio, which of course needs to be stored somewhere on a server. With the location of the file that is usually streamed in YouTube web player, the user can download a video for offline use or backup.
But what if someone used this tool to download the official music video for Taylor Swift's "Shake it off"? Shock! Horror! Piracy! YouTube-DL enables this, so it has to be removed, they write.
As usual, it only takes a moment to get to analog (or analog) situations that the RIAA long abandoned. For example, wouldn't you achieve the same thing with a screen and audio capture program? What about a camcorder? Or a tape recorder? They are all used to "bypass" the DRM placed on Tay & # 39; s video by making an offline copy without permission from the rights holder.
Of course, this shutdown will do almost nothing to prevent the software, which has likely been downloaded and bifurcated thousands of times, from being used or updated. There are dozens of websites and apps that do this too – and the RIAA may well take action against them, based on the logic in this letter.
Of course, the RIAA has a duty to protect itself from violations and cannot be expected to stand idle as people scrape official YouTube accounts to obtain high quality pirated copies of all of the artist's discographies. But striving for the basic tools is like the old, ineffective line of "home taping is killing the music industry". Nobody is buying it. And if we're going to talk about wholesale artist theft, maybe the RIAA should get its own house first – streaming services pay out pennies with the association's blessing. (Buy things at the band camp instead.)
Tools like YouTube DL like tapes, cameras, and hammers are technologies that can be used legally or illegally. Fair use doctrines enable tools like these for good faith endeavors like archiving content that may be lost because Google no longer cares, or for people who for one reason or another want a local copy of a generally available, free one Use medium for personal use only.
YouTube and other platforms also do what they can in good faith to make obvious and large-scale violations difficult. There's no "Download" button next to the latest Top 40 hit, but there are links to buy it and if I were to use a copy – even one I bought – as a background for my own video would be i haven't even been able to put it on youtube.
Temporarily removing the YouTube DL code from GitHub is a myopic response to an issue that may not be more than a rounding error in the schema of things. You are likely to lose more money to people who share logins. It or something very similar will be back soon, a little bit smarter and a little bit better, which makes the work of the RIAA so much more difficult, and the cycle is going to repeat itself.
Perhaps the creators of Whack-a-Mole are suing the RIAA for violating their unique IP.