Youtube-dl GitHub removed after RIAA complaint

I just found this interesting news.

Apparently youtube-dl is expressly intended to redistribute unlawfully recorded media. I know a ton of people rely on this piece of software here for archival purposes and whatnot. You can still download everything just fine from the youtube-dl website though.

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Interesting. If it is intended to download illegal content, I am not sure. But it was not intelligent to put such an example (copyrighted content) into the source code. I think if you remove that it should be OK but who knows.

But then it is like with Kodi before. You could use it for illegal purposes but youtube-dl does not circumvent DRM, that would be against the law.
With that logic you could also take down Firefox because it can use add-ons that do the same or even access a site with pirated content.

I would definitely not recommend to use GitHub anymore to host your project as it is owned by Microsoft and now you see what happens.

Of course I use youtube-dl. I download all my podcasts with it and not all of them from YouTube.

I already saw that the project is hosted on another platform:

I guess they have to host it outside the US anyway.

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It’s one of those things that could be used for illegal activities and legal ones as well. Just like a blanket or a pumpkin. But the whole thing gets ruined for everyone because sometimes bad things happen.

They went through the documentation, which is NOT source code but plain text, and decided that they didn’t like some examples. So the source code is the problem?

What about screen recording software like OBS?

What about JACK? You can just loop-back any sound source back into your recording software and steal anything from Youtube that way. Heck, even most Audio Interfaces have that function built right in, it might be part of USB class compliance, making any audio device potentially illegal.

It seems funny that they are going after the source code. If they read the code they would understand that it’s not designed specifically for stealing. Instead they are making it harder to find out the ways it’s totally legal.

Ok so this horse has been flogged these past couple days and I’m here to shock it back to life before getting my licks in.

Copy protection doesn’t have to be code, encryptions, or a specific program. It just has to be a mechanism used to prohibit distribution.

  1. The RIAA are the legal rights owners of the content.

  2. The YouTube (and other partners) website client is the “copy protection.”

  3. youtube-dl circumvents these copy protections and downloads the files.

  4. The RIAA then exercises their rights under the DMCA and issued a takedown notice to the entity that was hosting the main repository of infringing tool, GitHub.

  5. GitHub, hands tied, comply with the law.

There were allegedly comments in the source code which specifically referred to copyrighted materials.

Nobody forced the youtube-dl developers to write their project in this way.

This is also probably music piracy. It just isn’t as cut and dry as going after youtube-dl.

Interesting that you used the term steal though.

The issues of morality of downloading content, whether the DMCA is a just law, or whether information should be free are separate and concurrent issues.

The fact is that there is a law, it was violated, and this is the result of violating that law.

I’m also disheartened with some of these responses from the community because if this was a company violating the GPL to produce software, we would be right up that companies business to force them to comply with the GPL.

I think I’ve got all I need from this equine carcass.


Source code is a form of speech.
Also there is also a exemption to the copyright under fair use which not many ever claim. A claim the project could use. That one falls under “preservation.”

Seems this is ripe for a court case since the DeCSS with 2600 Enterpises never went to supreme court, and only one district appeals court has ruled on it in regards to source code being free speech in this context. Get it in another court.

That would be great for setting a precedent and sending a message. Though I wonder how many open source projects have the time or inclination to do something like this for the principle of it. Much easier to make a fork, rename the project, and edit out the offending examples from the documentation. It’s a shame. That’s what these groups do though, hassle everyone into compliance or oblivion, whichever is easier.

I think a suit would be successful. The application has legitimate uses. Like any other tool, they can be used for negative purposes. It seems the EFF is interested in this , and maybe will help them out.

It looks like project is back on GitHub and takedown was dismissed

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I am one of the totally legit users of youtube-dl. I pull the sermon of my church’s online worship service from youtube each week, rip the audio, and publish a podcast of the service. The downloads of the audio podcast number 1,229 for Oct, 1,362 for Sep, and 1,350 for Aug. The last two weeks have been crazy as I have had to jump though so many hoops to make this happen.

Normally, it’s as simple as a script embedded CLI command of youtube-dl -x

The assumption that youtube-dl is automatically used for DRM circumvention is a false narrative.

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I read that even the example (copyrighted content) was not illegal to use under the fair use clause.

A nice read from the original creator of youtube-dl.


Somehow I missed this discussion. I know this is an old post, but RIAA lost that lawsuit and the youtube-dl project was reinstated on Github.

Nice win for open-source.


True but somehow the project seems dead or at least dormant. There was no new release since last December.

FYI most people have switched to yt-dlp.

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It does seem abandoned. It also doesn’t work well any more; the typical maximum download speed is less than 50 KiB/s, which is very slow!

[download] Destination: BEST SONGS for TODDLERS 👶🎵 (1 to 3 year olds)/16 - ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT 🌊⛵🎶  + More Nursery Rhymes _ Lingokids.mp4
[download]  10.3% of 343.58MiB at 44.94KiB/s ETA 01:57:03

It is unclear if YouTube is throttling it somehow, or something is broken.

The yt-dlp fork is well-maintained and has fixed this and other issues.

As far as I know, this is because of how YouTube is now serving data. So if you, like youtube-dl, downloads it wrongly, it will be slow.
Does not happen with yt-dlp.

Actually me too.

I think it does.

So is GitHub treating this any differently now that it is owned by Microsoft then they would have done before they were bought out?

Interesting to see the influence Microsoft would bring to bear on this.

I think Microsoft has brought resources to Github to help them take care of issues like this in a timely manor. Maybe small policy changes.

I would be surprised if this were true.

I did see some posts about webmasters claiming that they received communication from Google stating that their website has been blocked from Google Search because their sites use youtube-dl.