GitHub boots popular YouTube download tool after RIAA claim

Enlarge (credit: YouTube / Getty / Aurich Lawson)

A popular tool used for archiving YouTube videos, YouTube-dl, is gone from GitHub after the Recording Industry Association of America filed a claim arguing that the code is inherently illegal under copyright law.

GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft, removed 18 projects on Friday that previously hosted versions of YouTube-dl, a Python library that allows for the downloading of YouTube video and audio files. Those repositories now display a message reading, “This repository is currently disabled due to a DMCA takedown notice. We have disabled public access to the repository.”

Although the notice is framed as a DMCA issue, the takedown notice from the RIAA, dated Friday, does not make claim that YouTube-dl is an act of copyright infringement. Instead, it alleges that the code itself is a violation of a different section of Us copyright law (as well as German copyright law), because the “clear purpose of this source code is 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 our member companies without authorization for such use.”

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