Major Record Labels Sue Hosting Provider of Youtube-dl *TorrentFreak

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As part of their growing battle against the popular open source software tool youtube-dl, three major music labels are now suing Uberspace, the company that currently hosts the official youtube-dl homepage. According to plaintiffs Sony, Universal and Warner, youtube-dl circumvents YouTube’s “rolling encryption” technology, which a German court ruled illegal in 2017.

In October 2020, the RIAA caused outrage by removing the YouTube extraction tool youtube-dl from GitHub.

The RIAA cited the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, saying the tool could be used to download their artists’ musical works from YouTube, in violation of copyright.

With little supporting case law in the United States, the RIAA referred to a Hamburg Regional Court ruling in a similar case, which found that YouTube’s “rolling encryption” should be considered a security measure. effective technological protection under EU law. Any attempt to circumvent it would therefore constitute an infringement.

Nevertheless, GitHub later restored the software and placed $1 million in a takedown defense fund.

Threats were also sent to other

While the RIAA’s efforts to remove youtube-dl from GitHub made headlines, moves were already underway weeks before in Germany. Law firm Rasch works with several major players in the music industry and it is on their behalf that cease and desist orders have been sent to local accommodation service Uberspace.

The RIAA complained that the company hosted the official youtube-dl website despite the tool itself being hosted elsewhere.

“The software itself wasn’t hosted on our systems anyway, so to be honest, I thought it was pretty ridiculous to involve us in this issue anyway – a law attorney IT should know more,” Uberspace’s Jonas Pasche told the Times.

Now comes a trial

In today’s email correspondence Uberspace informed TorrentFreak that following the October 2020 ceasefire, three major music labels are now suing the company in Germany.

In their complaint, Sony Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music broadly maintain the framework described in their previous cease and desist notice (pdf, via NetzPolitik), which referred to the Hamburg Regional Court’s ruling via a preliminary injunction in another case in 2017.

According to the labels, youtube-dl poses a risk to their business and allows users to download their artists’ copyrighted works by circumventing YouTube’s technical measures. Therefore, Uberspace should not interfere with the operation of the tool by host your website if he does not wish to see himself also responsible.

Does the lawsuit have legs and what is its purpose?

“We don’t believe the lawsuit is warranted,” Uberspace chief Jonas Pasche said in comments to TorrentFreak.

“YouTube has measures to prevent users from downloading specific content, which they use for YouTube Movies and Music: DRM. They do not use this technology here, allowing for rather trivial downloading. You can consider youtube-dl simple specialized browser, and you wouldn’t ban Firefox just because you can use it to access music videos on YouTube.

According to a lawyer for Uberspace, the purpose of the lawsuit is to obtain some kind of precedent or “fundamental judgment”. Success could mean other companies may be forced to take action in similar contentious legal situations.

And the alleged illegality of youtube-dl is indeed controversial. While YouTube’s terms of service generally prohibit downloading, in Germany there is the right to make a private copy, with the local rights group GEMA charging a fee to compensate for this. Similarly, when users upload content to YouTube under a Creative Commons license, for example, they consent to other members of the community using that content.

“Even though YouTube does not offer an out-of-the-box video download feature, the videos are not copy-protected,” says former MEP Julia Reda of the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) at NetzPolitik.

“Not only does YouTube pay license fees for music, but we all pay fees for the private copying right in the form of device fees, which are levied with every purchase of smartphones or storage media,” explains Reda.

“Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our private copying rights by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive.”

Whether YouTube’s “rolling encryption” is (or isn’t) a technological protection measure is currently the hot and recurring topic of a lawsuit filed by YouTube ripping site against the RIAA. in the USA. After more than a year, the warring factions are no closer to an agreement.

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