YouTube-DL is back on GitHub. The popular YouTube downloader was removed last month from the GitHub website, a major repository of coding information for developers, after the Microsoft-owned platform received a notice saying that the tool was being used to circumvent copyright protections. The removal request from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that the clear purpose of the YouTube-DL was to “reproduce and distribute music videos”. GitHub was severely criticised for complying and has now brought the tool back along with an explainer on what it will do to prevent takedowns in the future.
GitHub said that it was bringing the project back because it recognises the several non-infringing applications of the tool. “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,” GitHub said in a blogpost announcing the return of YouTube-DL on its platform. It did, however, take about three weeks for the platform to arrive at the conclusion. The post also details why the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take-down requests have been tricky to navigate for the platform with a separate explainer on its policies.
The removal of the tool and its source code from the platform was criticised in several reports that detailed its applications — from being used by journalists to gather videos as proofs before they are removed from YouTube to being used by educators to download videos in areas where internet connection was slow or less reliable. The removal was also challenged by GitHub users who said that any internet browser could be used to download and distribute YouTube videos that YouTube-DL was being accused of enabling.
While announcing the reinstatement of the tool, GitHub said the YouTube-dl did not “violate the DMCA‘s anticircumvention prohibitions” and that the allegations “did not establish a violation of the law”. It also recognised that the rule of law it had followed to remove the tool — Section 1201 of the DMCA established in the 1990s — had not anticipated its implications on the use of software today.
GitHub has ensured that future takedown claims will be scrutinised by technical and legal experts to avoid such a case in the future. “Every single credible 1201 takedown claim will be reviewed by technical experts, including when appropriate independent specialists retained by GitHub, to ensure that the project actually circumvents a technical protection measure as described in the claim,” it said.
The platform has also said that it will “err on the side of the developer” in case of ambiguity.
GitHub had launched its operations in India earlier this year. The California-based company had said that it plans to build an India team across all its functions including community, engineering, sales, support, marketing, and services.
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