GitHub has removed the ability to access youtube-dl's source code due to a DMCA request by the RIAA

... The clear purpose of this source code is to (i) circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube, and (ii) reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use. We note that the source code is described on GitHub as “a command-line program to download videos from and a few more sites.” ...

Micah F. Lee (EFF/The Intercept @micahflee

"RIAA blitz takes down 18 GitHub projects used for downloading YouTube videos"

HN discussion:


Reddit search:


Censorship, propaganda, surveillance, and targeted manipulation are inherent characteristics of monopoly:

RMS, "The Right to Read" (1997):

Remember that the RIAA is a bad-publicity-deflection cartel of its major members. These are:

#DMCA #youtubedl #RIAA #MPAA #github #Censorship #Surveillance #Propaganda #Manipulation #Monoply #CensorshipPropagandaSurveillanceMonopoly #TheRightToRead #EFF

Strategically / tactically, the most interesting aspect of the RIAA attack on youtube-dl to me is that it puts Microsoft on the spot to show its true colours. Is it Friend of Free Software, or Copyright Maximalist?


You're right, but anyone who expected anything but a reflexive takedown for a copyright request from a big corp hasn't been paying attention.

It's infinitely more convenient for these hosting corps to keel over to the first legal notice over third party content, and I think you'd gain more insight into behaviours looking at when they don't roll over vs when they do.

@polyphonic @dredmorbius it’s a DMCA notice. they have to take it down, it’s the law, not an ethical decision they have to make case by case. it’s how DMCA works. what sites like github get in exchange is to not be held legally/editorially responsible for any of the random shit their users post.

@polyphonic @dredmorbius there’s a way that DMCA works. the first notice, the site *has* to take the content down, regardless of its merits. then the content owner can dispute the notice as illegitimate, which in this case, it is since the code contains no copyrighted materials, and circumvention tools aren’t covered by the DMCA.

@polyphonic @dredmorbius so the counternotice, the contenr has to stay down for 10 days, the site— has to put the content back up. again, regardless of its merits, and in those 10 days, the RIAA has to declare their intent to actually sue, or the content just goes back up, the end.

@polyphonic @dredmorbius rather, circumvention tools *are* covered by the DMCA but not by the notice/counternotice stuff which is supposed to be for actual content. The RIAA is misusing DMCA notices and therefore faces a potential penalty

@polyphonic @dredmorbius there is no part of any of this process where microsoft or github are legally able to assert any ethical stance on any of it. it’s purely mechanical laws

@polyphonic @dredmorbius the instant microsoft does become involved and assert any ethical stance on things like this, that changes github’s legal category from being a carrier to being a publisher, and that is something nobody should want to happen

@polyphonic @dredmorbius in the real world, misuses of the DMCA don’t get penalised, so corporations tend to promiscuously file them as a bullying tactic, to get people to fold so they don’t have to bother paying for a real lawsuit, which is what the RIAA legally should be doing instead.

@polyphonic @dredmorbius again, microsoft and github are not involved in any of this. that is the bargain we made in exchange for having websites that allow users to post things.

@zens @dredmorbius
Thank you for clarifying my suspicion. I was hazy on the legal weight of a dmca notice (not american, but follow as best I can)

Microsoft/github are largely bystanders here.

Not to give them any credit, they are bad actors in many other ways, but not here.

@dredmorbius well given that it isn’t a dmca notice and the prior distinctions. it’ll be interesting to see how microsoft responds.

though i will admit, i think the view of corporations ethical responsibilities being similar to individuals’ is naive- generally- not mentioning this as a specific criticism of anyone here.

corporations are sort of legally and ethically obliged to act like antisocial psychopaths, even when they’re made of reasonable ethical people

@zens This is precisely why the strategic aspect is so interesting.

I absolutely expect Microsoft to decide and act based on its assessment of long-term direct benefit. And that question, vis-a-vis copyright, and specifically 17 USC 1201 anti-circumvention, is very much in question.

Ethics plays a minor role.

@zens Though true, this is a de facto and not de jure distinction. Law isn't the issue, risk is.

Microsoft are well-capitalised. They also exited the music biz in 2017:


@zens Incorrect. Safe-harbour provisions (512), which do not apply in this action (1201), would be lost in the specific action.

Q: Does a service provider have to follow the safe harbor procedures?

A: No. An ISP may choose not to follow the DMCA takedown process, and do without the safe harbor. If it would not be liable under pre-DMCA copyright law (for example, because it is not contributorily or vicariously liable, or because there is no underlying copyright infringement), it can still raise those same defenses if it is sued.


@dredmorbius @zens
This is an interesting distinction I'm not super familiar with.

It still seems to me github has nothing to gain by resisting, whether it's a technically legal stance they can take or not.

Microsoft does not benefit from taking a stand here. Companies only care about ethics when it helps them. This is exactly what anyone looking at history should expect.

@dredmorbius @polyphonic i suspect that microsoft primarily wanted to acquire electron and atom, with github itself being kind of a secondary concern. but i have nothing in particular to back that up other than a feeling

@dredmorbius @polyphonic and kind of watching them not doing a fuck of a lot with github in particular while at the same time already being halfway through making electron and atom into the new official native windows platform api at the time they bought github

@dredmorbius @zens
I wouldn't be shocked if they siphoned devs off onto other projects and left the husk to run itself tbh

@polyphonic I believe there've been corporate challenges, though I don't have reference to any offhand.

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