The RIAA is trying to kill youtube-dl

As if losing Vanced wasn’t bad enough

You may still be reeling from the sudden loss of YouTube Vanced last week, but there’s another YouTube-based fight on the horizon. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has restarted its quest to kill popular video downloading tool youtube-dl. After trying and failing to get the project pulled from GitHub, it’s now going after the German web firm that hosts its homepage.

Youtube-dl has been around almost as long as YouTube itself, giving users the ability to download videos from the platform. There are numerous reasons you might want to do that, ranging from backing up your own YouTube videos to saving a copy of important eyewitness video before its disappears. The RIAA is only interested in how people might use youtube-dl to download music. It tried to get the project booted from GitHub in 2020, and now it’s making the same arguments in Germany. The target: a small web host called Uberspace that happens to host the youtube-dl homepage.


The EFF notes that youtube-dl doesn’t circumvent any protection scheme, nor does it exist primarily to infringe copyrights. However, the RIAA has claimed the opposite in its quest to shut the project down. The arguments here are even more questionable than they were in 2020 as the project’s website doesn’t serve any purpose other than linking to GitHub.

Regardless of who’s right, the RIAA has a lot more money than a random German web host, and these cases are expensive to fight. If the RIAA hoped Uberspace would just fold, they’re in for disappointment. The German Society for Civil Rights (GFF) has stepped in to cover legal expenses for Uberspace, which recently filed a brief explaining (again) that youtube-dl is not breaking DRM, and therefore Uberspace cannot be forced to take the site down. Is it really any different than the battle over cassette tapes decades ago? We’ll have to wait to see how German courts handle the case.

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