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Standing up for developers: youtube-dl is back

Accepted submission by DannyB at 2020-11-16 21:01:32 from the Draconian-Monsterous-Copyright-Abomination dept.
Digital Liberty

Standing up for developers: youtube-dl is back []

Today we reinstated youtube-dl, [] a popular project on GitHub, after we received additional information [] about the project that enabled us to reverse a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown.

At GitHub, our priority is supporting open source and the developer community. And so we share developers’ frustration with this takedown—especially since this project has many legitimate purposes. Our actions were driven by processes required to comply with laws like the DMCA that put platforms like GitHub and developers in a difficult spot. And our reinstatement, based on new information that showed the project was not circumventing a technical protection measure (TPM), was inline with our values of putting developers first. We know developers want to understand what happened here, and want to know how GitHub will stand up for developers and refine our processes on these issues.

GitHub’s developer-focused approach to the DMCA

GitHub handles DMCA claims to maximize protections for developers, and we designed [] our DMCA Takedown Policy [] with developers in mind. Nearly every platform with user-generated content accepts and processes DMCA takedown notices to comply with the law. For GitHub, [] many of those notices come from developers wanting us to enforce the terms of their open source licenses, for example, when someone is using their code without the proper attribution required by the open source license they adopted. [...]


As we explained, the key claim in the youtube-dl takedown is circumvention. Although we did initially take the project down, we understand that just because code can be used to access copyrighted works doesn’t mean it can’t also be used to access works in non-infringing ways. We also understood that this project’s code has many legitimate purposes, including changing playback speeds for accessibility, preserving evidence in the fight for human rights, aiding journalists in fact-checking, and downloading Creative Commons-licensed or public domain videos. When we see it is possible to modify a project to remove allegedly infringing content, we give the owners a chance to fix problems before we take content down. If not, they can always respond to the notification disabling the repository and offer to make changes, or file a counter notice.

That’s what happened in this case. First, we were able to reinstate [] a fork of youtube-dl after one of the fork owners applied a patch [] with changes in response to the notice.

Then, after we received new information [] that showed the youtube-dl project does not in fact violate the DMCA‘s anticircumvention prohibitions, we concluded that the allegations did not establish a violation of the law. In addition, the maintainer submitted a patch to the project addressing the allegations of infringement based on unit tests referencing copyrighted videos. Based on all of this, we reinstated the youtube-dl project and will be providing options for reinstatement to all of its forks.

What we’re changing

Going forward, we are overhauling our 1201 claim review process to ensure that the following steps are completed before any takedown claim is processed [...]

So it was all because a unit test mentioned several certain videos which happened to be copyrighted by someone who was offended their link was used in a test case? And the patch changed the test case video links to some that would not cause problems in the future? And that was used to stretch this into a circumvention device claim?

It is interesting that GitHub is taking this stand. GitHub is [p|o]wned by Microsoft.

Original Submission