from the get-over-it-riaa dept
When will the legacy entertainment industry get it through their thick skulls that recording content is legal. We’ve done this. We’ve done it at the highest level. Tools that have substantial non-infringing uses are legal.
Well, at least in the US.
Which explains why the legacy companies often go overseas to do their dirty work. And that’s the case here.
For a while now, the recording industry has been absolutely furious that it was possible to download YouTube videos, with their ire directed mainly at one tool that enables such downloads, youtube-dl, a command line video downloader, that is also a plugin component for other download tools. It’s a useful tool. Journalists use it all the time. I have used it multiple times myself, most often when I’m trying to generate a transcript of a YouTube video, and the transcript tool I use requires an upload file.
It has, as the Supreme Court notes, substantial non-infringing uses.
But, of course, the RIAA never gives up its quixotic efforts to attack the open internet. So, it went to Germany, where copyright law is pretty consistently stupid. Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music went after the hosting company, Uberspace, who was hosting the youtube-dl webpage in Germany.
Using the European equivalent of their argument in the US that failed (here it was that the code violated Section 1201 of the DMCA that forbids “circumvention” technologies), a German court sided with the labels back in April, but the site remained online until just recently, when, as TorrentFreak notes, the labels put up a bond that allowed for the enforcement of the original order, even while Uberspace appealed the ruling.
The ruling was published in March but Uberspace wasn’t required to take action right away. The hosting company decided to appeal, which meant that the youtube-dl.org site remained online, unless the music companies posted a €20,000 bond.
Initially, it didn’t appear that the labels would enforce the order, but that changed a few days ago. The plaintiffs informed Uberspace that they had posted the security, leaving the company no other choice than to take the site offline.
Torrentfreak spoke to Uberspace’s owner, Jonas Pasche, who seems (quite understandably) pissed off about this, but noted that his hands were legally tied:
“I received that information from the plaintiff’s side on July 27, with proof that they did the security deposit at a bank. So I no longer have a choice but to follow the judgment. Otherwise, I would face a fine of €250,000 or jail time,” Pasche notes.
The appeals fight continues in the meantime:
Uberspace will continue the legal battle and is prepared to fight the order up to the highest court possible. If the appeal is successful, Pasche will gladly unblock the site.
“We are confident that a higher court will overturn the judgment of the Hamburg Regional Court, so we will be able to unblock the site as soon as this happens,” he says.
All of this is basically just the major record labels being a fucking nuisance. The (again, perfectly useful for non-infringing purposes) youtube-dl code is still on GitHub where it can be downloaded. And, even if the labels somehow managed to kill youtube-dl, people would figure out other ways to download video content. It’s not going to stop piracy. And, really, at a time when the record labels are making record revenue thanks to the internet, maybe they could lighten up a bit on this infatuation with trying to make everything suck just because some tools might be used for infringing uses in some cases.
Get over it. Some people are going to infringe. If the industry and its lawyers spent like 20% of the time and effort they currently spend on “anti-piracy” efforts on just providing better content in more convenient ways to eager music fans, they’d do so much better.
But the whole industry has built up this stupid faith-based belief that “piracy” is the problem, rather than their failure to better serve their customers.