GitHub Reinstated YouTube-dl and will Overhaul DMCA Reviews

GitHub announced that they reinstated youtube-dl after receiving additional information about the project that enabled GitHub to reverse a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown. As a result, GitHub has created a developer-focused approach that requires specific steps that will be performed before any takedown claim is processed.

TechCrunch reported that in October, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent a DMCA complaint to GitHub over YouTube-dl. The project allowed viewers to download YouTube videos for offline viewing. The RIAA said that this circumvented DRM and promoted the piracy of several popular songs.

As a result, GitHub took down YouTube-dl because platforms like it have to comply with laws. In their blog post, GitHub noted: “DCMA takedown claims based on circumvention are a growing, industry-wide issue for developers with far-reaching implications.” There was also another problem:

Section 1201 dates back to the late 1990s and did not anticipate the various implications it has for software use today. As a result, Section 1201 makes it illegal to use or distribute technology (including source code) that bypasses technical measures that control access or copying of copyrighted works, even if that technology can be used in a way that would not be copyright infringement.

GitHub states that it received information that showed the youtube-dl project does not in fact violate the DMCA’s anticircumvention prohibitions. GitHub concluded that the allegations did not establish a violation of the law. As a result, GitHub reinstated the youtube-dl project.

There is a detailed list of things that GitHub is changing in their effort to overhaul their 1201 claim review process. They are doing this at their own cost and at no cost to the developers who use GitHub.

To me, these changes could prevent the RIAA from having a DMCA takedown request immediately acted upon. It also sounds like the changes enable GitHub to do some investigating about the validity of the RIAA claim before taking action.