Update: youtube-dl reinstantiated thanks to EFF

In October, the popular and famous archivist tool youtube-dl was taken down by GitHub due to a DMCA request by the Recording Industry Association of America. I posted a detailed analysis explaining the relation between international, US, EU and German law, and showing why this request was very different from what most people know as the “classic” DMCA takedown request. I felt this was necessary since there were a lot of rumor and wrong claims out on the Internet (not just in forums or on the (anti)social media, but also on media offerings), which did not help the discussion at all. The repository is back now, thanks to the EFF and its team. They filed a counter-notice on behalf of the youtube-dl maintainers, which allowed GitHub to reinstantiate the repository.

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youtube-dl, GitHub, and a takedown request

On Oct 23, 2020, GitHub Inc. published a takedown notice after taking down youtube-dl’s main repository as well as a number of its forks.

youtube-dl is a Python library which can be used to decode stream URLs of a large variety of services. This allows third-party video players to stream videos, legitimately download copies and much more. It has been used as the basis for many other applications, but also ships with a CLI front end targeting advanced users.

The takedown request is justified with so-called anti-circumvention laws, as well as a German court decision. There are plenty of rumors on the Internet around this case, but a lot of them are apparently wrong. Therefore, in this blog post, we’ll have a glance at the request as well as the German laws and the court decision. We also discuss several third-party responses.

There is one important fact that needs to be stressed: This text was not written by lawyers and does not provide any legal advice. It simply provides a third-party analysis of the situation.

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