RIAA YouTube-DL Thriller Continues to Unfold as Users Aren’t Backing Down

By Bill Toulas / November 5, 2020

The fire that started with RIAA’s DMCA to GitHub, asking the code hosting platform to remove YouTube-DL about two weeks ago, isn’t going out. The American association demonstrated their fierce stance a few days after that event, even though the YouTube-DL community fought back with a massive wave of support to the open-source project. They just used hundreds of new accounts and uploaded the tool’s code on other repositories on GitHub.

GitHub had to do something about the situation, so they decided to threaten users who engaged in this practice with permanent bans. However, this is hardly effective, as determined people may keep on using different emails to make new accounts on the platform and continue the upload action. The hosting platform saw the backfire coming, but they stated they had no other legal option than to comply with RIAA’s takedown requests.

But now users are taking things to the next level, leaving the YouTube-DL tool aside and straight out uploading the MP3 files (Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Icona Pop) that were used by the RIAA as examples of copyright infringement in recent subpoenas against pirate sites. So, this is taking the proportions of a war between the RIAA and the pirate community.

Targeting specific and purely pirating websites is disappointing for pirates but rarely triggers outrages. What made the difference this time is that the RIAA has taken a more bulk approach, targeting a tool that’s not intrinsically a pirate-enabler but can be potentially utilized for this purpose. It’s the equivalent of the old argument of banning screwdrivers because some people can use them as attack weapons, and they can be really effective at this role.

Of course, YouTube-DL remains available for download through its own website, but if the RIAA has its way on GitHub, it could move on and ask a U.S. court to order ISPs to ban access to the official website of the open-source project. This is why the community is objecting to the entire action so vocally and why they hold GitHub accountable too.

Possibly, the RIAA will ease up its DMCA notice distribution for a while to let the dust settle, as their activities are only bringing even more chaos into the situation. We’re not saying that RIAA’s cause to protect its members’ ownership is void in any way, but its approach has summoned practical and even legal complications upon them. YouTube-DL remains a perfectively legitimate tool, so targeting it is just plainly unfair.

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