Standing up for developers: YouTube-dl is back

Last modified on November 17, 2020

As of late we reinstated youtube-dl, a popular mission on GitHub, after we purchased further info relating to the mission that enabled us to reverse a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown. 

At GitHub, our precedence is supporting open present and the developer neighborhood. And so we fragment builders’ frustration with this takedown—particularly since this mission has many favorable capabilities. Our actions had been pushed by processes required to evolve with legal guidelines just like the DMCA that save platforms like GitHub and builders in a sophisticated whine. And our reinstatement, in holding with recent info that confirmed the mission was as soon as now not circumventing a technical safety measure (TPM), was as soon as inline with our values of putting builders first. We all know builders dangle to realize what took location right here, and dangle to seize how GitHub will get up for builders and refine our processes on these issues. 

In this publish, we provide options to in pattern questions relating to the DMCA and why GitHub dealt with this case the process we did, describe why circumvention claims deserve particular remedy, and fragment how we’re updating our insurance policies and combating to abet the legislation.

Why did GitHub course of this takedown throughout the first location? 

As a platform, we should comply with legal guidelines—even ones that we don’t converse are shiny for builders. As we’ve seen, this might sometimes per likelihood properly furthermore lead to instances the place GitHub is required to hold shut code—even when it has an enormous collection of non-infringing makes use of—if it is miles that in reality designed to bypass a TPM. However here is exceedingly unusual. 

Lower than two % of the DMCA takedowns we course of are in holding with circumvention claims, and of these two %, this was as soon as a particularly unusual case. 

DMCA takedown claims in holding with circumvention are a rising, industry-wide topic for builders with a ways-reaching implications. We’ll salvage into this in additional element, however first, right here’s some speedy background. 

Circumvention claims beneath the DMCA

Most takedown notices we obtain declare copyright infringement—that someone feeble their copyrighted work (steadily system code) in a mode that infringes their rights. However as many people seen, the youtube-dl takedown stare fell appropriate right into a extra unusual class: anticircumvention—an allegation that the code was as soon as designed to bypass technical measures that protect watch over salvage admission to or copying of copyrighted material, in violation of Part 1201 of the DMCA.

Part 1201 dates help to the gradual 1990s and didn't look ahead to the various implications it has for system make the most of on the recent time. This capability that, Part 1201 makes it illegal to make make the most of of or distribute talents (along with present code) that bypasses technical measures that protect watch over salvage admission to or copying of copyrighted works, even when that talents might properly even be feeble in a mode that will now not be copyright infringement. Circumvention was as soon as the core declare throughout the youtube-dl takedown. 

GitHub’s developer-targeted come to the DMCA 

GitHub handles DMCA claims to maximise protections for builders, and we designed our DMCA Takedown Coverage with builders in thoughts. Almost each platform with consumer-generated squawk accepts and processes DMCA takedown notices to evolve with the legislation. For GitHub, so quite a lot of these notices advance from builders looking out us to position in pressure the phrases of their open present licenses, for instance, when someone is the make the most of of their code with out the correct attribution required by the open present license they adopted. Listed beneath are methods our come protects builders:

  • Given the price to builders of an unwarranted takedown of code, we construct particular we dangle a total stare earlier than we clutch motion. We distinguish between code that merely might properly even be feeble in an infringing process and code that is preconfigured to be feeble a lumber process. We additionally acknowledge that code can present salvage admission to to copyrighted squawk with out violating the legislation (for instance, shiny make the most of). In some instances we are going to protect a mission up for the explanation that squawk recognized throughout the takedown stare is now not in reality infringing or circumventing a TPM that controls salvage admission to or copying of copyrighted works. 
  • Our course of fashions a better bar for 1201 claims than the infringement claims we often salvage. We require complainants to supply further info express to circumvention, and to explain the technical measures and the way the mission is designed to bypass them, for us to hold in thoughts a stare total. Below we present how we’re additional strengthening our course of.
  • Every time we course of takedowns, we inform the general affected repository house owners relating to the takedown and supplies them alternate decisions to dispute it. We allow the repository proprietor to construct changes to deal with the allegations throughout the consciousness and in a great deal of instances, we are going to protect duties up on fable of they possess. 
  • We're clear with the developer neighborhood about DMCA takedown notices. Every time we course of a DMCA takedown stare or counter stare, we publish the textual content to our DMCA repository, dated on the date we course of it (as towards as soon as we obtain it), in narrate that anyone can see the attention and the basis for our motion. 

These are all steps we for the time being clutch to abet builders, which transcend our moral duties and in pattern {industry} uncover whereas aloof assembly the requirements of the DMCA.


As we defined, the precept declare throughout the youtube-dl takedown is circumvention. Though we did throughout the beginning put clutch the mission down, we understand that favorable on fable of code might properly even be feeble to salvage admission to copyrighted works doesn’t point out it will’t even be feeble to salvage admission to works in non-infringing methods. We additionally understood that this mission’s code has many favorable capabilities, along with altering playback speeds for accessibility, sustaining proof throughout the fight for human rights, serving to journalists if reality be told-checking, and downloading Creative Commons-licensed or public area movies. When we see it is miles that you must properly be in a location to think about to modify a mission to hold shut allegedly infringing squawk, we give the house owners a likelihood to restore issues earlier than we clutch squawk down. If now not, they'll all the time reply to the notification disabling the repository and provide to construct changes, or file a counter stare. 

That’s what took location on this case. First, we had been in a location to reinstate a fork of youtube-dl after one amongst the fork house owners utilized a patch with changes in keeping with the attention. 

Then, after we purchased recent info that confirmed the youtube-dl mission does now not in reality violate the DMCA‘s anticircumvention prohibitions, we concluded that the allegations didn't impact a violation of the legislation. As correctly as, the maintainer submitted a patch to the mission addressing the allegations of infringement in holding with unit assessments referencing copyrighted movies. Per all of this, we reinstated the youtube-dl mission and will properly correctly be offering alternate decisions for reinstatement to all of its forks. 

What we’re altering

Going ahead, we're overhauling our 1201 declare overview course of to make sure the following steps are performed earlier than any takedown declare is processed:

  1. Each and every credible 1201 takedown declare will seemingly be reviewed by technical specialists, along with when acceptable sincere specialists retained by GitHub, to make sure the mission actually circumvents a technical safety measure as described throughout the declare.
  2. The declare might even be fastidiously scrutinized by moral specialists to make sure unwarranted claims or claims that stretch past the boundaries of the DMCA are rejected.
  3. Within the case the place the declare is ambiguous, we are going to err on the facet of the developer, and plod away up the repository till there might be obvious proof of illegal circumvention.
  4. Within the occasion that the declare is came across to be total, moral, and technically favorable by our specialists, we are going to contact the repository proprietor and supplies them a likelihood to reply to the declare or construct changes to the repo to give up away from a takedown. Within the occasion that they don’t reply, we are going to try to contact the repository proprietor once more earlier than taking any longer steps.
  5. Simplest as soon as these steps had been performed will a repository be taken down.
  6. After a repository is taken down attributable to what seems to be wish to be an excellent and favorable 1201 declare, we are going to proceed to succeed in out to the repository proprietor throughout the occasion that they've now not already replied to us, in characterize to supply them the completely different to deal with the declare and restore the repository. 
  7. Even after a repository has been taken down attributable to what seems to be wish to be an excellent declare, we are going to make sure repository house owners can export their issues and PRs and diverse repository info that possess now not dangle the alleged circumvention code, the place legally that you must properly be in a location to think about.
  8. We can employees our Belief and Security frontline crew to reply to developer tickets in such instances as a high precedence, in narrate that we'll make sure claims are resolved fleet and repositories are promptly reinstated as soon as claims had been resolved.

All of this might sometimes per likelihood properly per likelihood presumably be performed at our possess value and at no value to the builders who make the most of GitHub. We issue on this represents the gold long-established in developer-first 1201 claims dealing with. Like we possess with all of our location insurance policies, we are going to doc and open present this course of in narrate that assorted firms that host code or capabilities can originate on it as correctly. And we are going to proceed to refine and abet this course of as our talents

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