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We reported a week ago that Microsoft has removed the code for YouTube-DL, an open-source internet video download command-line application in response to a DMCA request by the RIAA.
The internet responded in its typical fashion, by routing around the damage and reposting the code all over the web, including reposting the code to GitHub.
Microsoft has responded by threatening to ban users who did this, saying:
If you are looking to file or dispute a takedown notice by posting to this repository, please STOP :stop_sign: because we do not accept Pull Requests or other contributions to this repository.
Please note that re-posting the exact same content that was the subject of a takedown notice without following the proper process outlined below is a violation of GitHub’s DMCA Policy and Terms of Service. If you commit or post content to this repository that violates our Terms of Service, we will delete that content and may suspend access to your account as well.
The EFF has argued that YouTube-DL has fair use purposes, including downloading your own content from YouTube or backing up videos which may be removed for other reasons.
Youtube-dl is a legitimate tool with a world of a lawful uses. Demanding its removal from Github is a disappointing and counterproductive move by the RIAA. https://t.co/VUbTokd4cP
— EFF (@EFF) October 23, 2020
The request is not based on the fact that the tool violates copyright itself, but that it is a circumvention tool illegal under section 1201 of the US copyright law.
According to Public Knowledge Legal Director John Bergmayeh, the tool violates copyright law, because it’s clearly meant to “circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube” and to “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by [RIAA’s] member companies without authorization for such use.”
Whatever the case, the RIAA, and now Microsoft’s actions, are only likely to inflame advocates even more, and do little to make the code less available.