RIAA launches legal campaign against YouTube download sites

The RIAA, the recording industry's legal arm, has obtained subpoenas targeting 41 websites that make it easy to download videos from YouTube. Among those targeted are Y2Mate.com, which offers a wealth of download options and formats, and notube.net, a minimalist alternative.

Following two separate applications at a California court, the music industry group obtained DMCA subpoenas requiring both Cloudflare and Namecheap to hand over information on a large number of their allegedly-infringing customers. The Cloudflare subpoena contains 35 domains and the Namecheap subpoena 15 domains. However, due to a considerable overlap, when combined they target 41 domains.

Days ago, GitHub removed the software repository of youtube-dl at the RIAA's request. Youtube-dl (still available at its own website) is a video-downloading application useful on many sites and platforms, widely used by journalists and archivists for entirely legal purposes.

The argument is that even though it is used for legal purposes, the fact that it is even capable of circumventing a protection measure makes it illegal—a repurposing of copyright law to directly control what we do with computers.

the takedown notice from the RIAA, dated Friday, does not make claim that YouTube-dl is an act of copyright infringement. Instead, it alleges that the code itself is a violation of a different section of US copyright law (as well as German copyright law), because the "clear purpose of this source code is to… circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube, and [to] reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use."

A reminder that they would kill anything that copies or records, if they could, and have long been eager to overturn the precedents that restrain them.