YouTube-dl Hit With DMCA Takedown By The RIAA

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Opinion Piece by the Author

youtube-dl dmca takedown featured image

We knew this day would come didn’t we? The day that open source projects come under attack by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It seems we’ve made it to that day because the RIAA have issued a DMCA Takedown on the project youtube-dl on their GitHub repo. Naturally this is done under the guise of protecting the content creators from having their ad revenue stolen . . . I mean, you wouldn’t download a car would you?

The truth is that they’ve only shuttered the internet archivists and users suffering from a slow internet from consuming the content they love. Sure, there might be those that have used it to circumvent some ads but let’s not pretend ad-blockers don’t exist which accomplish the same goal. I don’t expect those to last much longer either, they’re next on the list.

DMCA Takedown notice on GitHub

It’s important to be upfront about something, I am a content creator. In contrast to what RIAA thinks, I have come to the conclusion that the existence of youtube-dl doesn’t bother me at all. Instead, I see it as a compliment that someone would take the time to archive and preserve any of my work. It’s also a compliment that someone would want to watch my videos enough that they would utilize a tool to overcome their slow internet.

I know there are some out there asking about the argument of circumventing ads? To them, I would say just go watch my content on LBRY/Odysee where I post it all ad free anyway and save yourself some time and support a much-needed alternative to YouTube.

the DasGeek channel on Odysee (LBRY)
the DasGeek channel on Odysee (LBRY)

Throughout the years I’ve had several individuals contact me and ask if it was ok if they could download my content using tools like youtube-dl. My response was always “go for it”. Let that sink in for a moment, people I’ve never met took the time to ask for my permission. One time it was to use a video for a school project and another because they suffered slow internet. Advertisements aren’t the only way to monetize a channel either, there are many ways such as sponsorship deals, merchandise sales, donations, and Patrons. The Patrons and donations are perhaps the biggest compliment a content creator could ever receive and where any focus from making a living should be towards anyway.

For those that side with the RIAA DMCA takedown under the argument that this is stealing . . . well, I believe your heart is in the right place but remember that all freedoms and rights are stolen from you under the disguise of safety and security. This overreach could likely continue throughout the open source world and extend to all the codecs and proprietary bits that exist under your favorite distros and rip them apart with lawsuits they couldn’t possibly fight. Love that Ubuntu-Unrestricted-Extras . . . you think it’s always safe? The artists and content creators have somehow managed to survive ad blockers and youtube-DL for all these years.

RIAA's takedown of youtube-dl on GitHub is futile
RIAA’s takedown of youtube-dl on GitHub is futile

Finally, this does nothing to stop those relatively few who are pirating or stealing work with the intention of reproducing it or selling it as their own work. Removing this tool accomplishes absolutely nothing except for shutting down those who use this tool for honest purposes. Do you think the youtube-DL code wasn’t copied, forked, or is so difficult to re-produce that it will suddenly cease to exist? On the contrary, I present to you the case of DRM created by companies to protect their interests which have stopped absolutely nobody. In fact, all the DRM Disney put on their streaming service ended up with the Mandalorian being one of the most pirated shows in history.

It’s important to note, Youtube-dl isn’t necessarily gone. Github which is owned by Microsoft apparently reacts to these DMCA claims by immediately blocking the content until the defendant Youtube-dl makes their case for why their service isn’t in violation of the archaic copyright rules. However, I don’t expect they will be successful in fighting the lawyers of the too big to fail corporations. Yet, an alternative to Youtube-dl will appear, and they will keep appearing and there is not a darn thing any company can do about it.

There is something YOU can do about it though…donate to the EFF. The company that took the fight to the bullying behavior of companies who were suing college students and destroying the lives of ordinary families under the (stop me if you’ve heard this before) disguise of protecting the artists and content creators.

I did my part. It’s time to do yours.

thank you notice for donation from EFF
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Want learn more about Ryan aka DasGeek check out Issue 19 of Linux++

You can read the full issue by going here.

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