The debate about the open source tool youtube-dl is entering the next round. Now a company has been sued that hosts the developer’s website and has nothing to do with the code itself. In October 2020, the music industry had already succeeded in legally forcing GitHub to remove the youtube-dls source code from its platform.
However, Microsoft’s code hoster reinstated the project a month later, setting aside $1 million to fund further litigation to eliminate it. Even then, the lawyers in the music industry had already sent threatening letters to the German web host Uberspace. This was accused of being guilty of complicity in copyright infringement. However, Uberspace did not respond to the allegations and now the company is facing a lawsuit from Sony Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music, according to TorrentFreak magazine.
The hoster himself is not responsible for the content published by his customers. He only has to react when he becomes aware of illegal content. And it is not yet clear whether youtube-dl is really illegal. However, it now seems as if the music industry wants to clarify this decision via the hoster’s ties. In doing so, the corporations rely on a construct from the legal framework relating to copyright law, according to which the duplication of content by users is inadmissible if an effective copy protection system has to be circumvented. Normal YouTube content is protected with a process called “Rolling Cipher”, but it is questionable whether this is effective protection under the law – after all, you hardly need any in-depth technical knowledge to circumvent this.
But there are also courts that see this differently – such as the Hamburg Regional Court, which notoriously judges in the interests of the media industry. Basically, YouTube doesn’t seem to be interested in completely blocking the download options – because only with this can, for example, quotes be created with which videos relate to each other and interactions between the individual channels take place, which constitutes an essential part of the culture on the platform.
Alice is a professional writer and editor at Research Snipers, she has a keen interest in technology and gadgets, She works as a junior news editor at Research Snipers.