Standing up for developers: YouTube-dl is back

This day we reinstated youtube-dl, a typical challenge on GitHub, after we acquired further recordsdata about the challenge that enabled us to reverse a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown. 

At GitHub, our precedence is supporting open source and the developer community. And so we half developers’ frustration with this takedown—especially since this challenge has many legitimate applications. Our actions were driven by processes required to monitor authorized guidelines take care of the DMCA that keep platforms take care of GitHub and developers in a provocative space. And our reinstatement, per unique recordsdata that showed the challenge used to be now no longer circumventing a technical protection measure (TPM), used to be inline with our values of placing developers first. We know developers are desirous to fancy what took place here, and are desirous to know the design GitHub will come up for developers and refine our processes on these disorders. 

On this put up, we provide answers to long-established questions about the DMCA and why GitHub handled this case the manner we did, listing why circumvention claims deserve particular cure, and half how we’re updating our policies and combating to toughen the law.

Why did GitHub job this takedown within the principle location? 

As a platform, we must observe authorized guidelines—even ones that we don’t converse are magnificent for developers. As we’ve viewed, this may possibly well well additionally simply result in conditions where GitHub is required to scheme end away code—even though it has a multitude of non-infringing makes employ of—whether it is that if fact be told designed to bypass a TPM. However that is exceedingly uncommon. 

Much less than two p.c of the DMCA takedowns we job are per circumvention claims, and of these two p.c, this used to be an extremely curious case. 

DMCA takedown claims per circumvention are a growing, enterprise-broad concern for developers with a long way-reaching implications. We’ll get into this in extra part, but first, here’s some rapid background. 

Circumvention claims below the DMCA

Most takedown notices we catch state copyright infringement—that somebody extinct their copyrighted work (now and again software program code) in a design that infringes their rights. However as many folks noticed, the youtube-dl takedown glance fell staunch into a extra curious class: anticircumvention—an allegation that the code used to be designed to bypass technical measures that alter get entry to or copying of copyrighted fabric, in violation of Half 1201 of the DMCA.

Half 1201 dates motivate to the late 1990s and did no longer count on the many implications it has for software program employ on the unique time. For this reason, Half 1201 makes it unlawful to employ or distribute expertise (along with source code) that bypasses technical measures that alter get entry to or copying of copyrighted works, even though that expertise may possibly well well additionally simply additionally be extinct in a design that will now no longer be copyright infringement. Circumvention used to be the core mumble within the youtube-dl takedown. 

GitHub’s developer-centered methodology to the DMCA 

GitHub handles DMCA claims to maximize protections for developers, and we designed our DMCA Takedown Policy with developers in mind. Nearly every platform with consumer-generated declare material accepts and processes DMCA takedown notices to monitor the law. For GitHub, many of these notices diagram from developers wanting us to implement the phrases of their open source licenses, as an illustration, when somebody is the utilization of their code with out the upright attribution required by the open source license they adopted. Here are ways our methodology protects developers:

  • Given the charge to developers of an unwarranted takedown of code, we be obvious that we now have gotten a total glance earlier than we scheme end saunter. We distinguish between code that merely may possibly well well additionally simply additionally be extinct in an infringing design and code that’s preconfigured to be extinct a obvious design. We also gaze that code can provide get entry to to copyrighted declare material with out violating the law (as an illustration, magnificent employ). In some conditions we can indulge in a challenge up due to the the declare material identified within the takedown glance is now no longer if fact be told infringing or circumventing a TPM that controls get entry to or copying of copyrighted works. 
  • Our job devices a increased bar for 1201 claims than the infringement claims we now and again get. We require complainants to indulge in further recordsdata particular to circumvention, and to listing the technical measures and how the challenge is designed to bypass them, for us to scheme end into consideration a glance total. Below we charge how we’re further strengthening our job.
  • At any time once we job takedowns, we divulge all of the affected repository householders about the takedown and give them alternatives to dispute it. We enable the repository proprietor to indulge in modifications to accommodate the allegations within the awareness and in many conditions, we can indulge in initiatives up due to they devise. 
  • We’re clear with the developer community about DMCA takedown notices. At any time once we job a DMCA takedown glance or counter glance, we submit the text to our DMCA repository, dated on the date we job it (as in opposition to once we catch it), so that somebody can stumble on the awareness and the basis for our saunter. 

These are all steps we currently scheme end to motivate developers, which sprint past our lawful tasks and usual enterprise prepare whereas nonetheless assembly the requirements of the DMCA.


As we defined, the principle mumble within the youtube-dl takedown is circumvention. Though we did within the origin scheme end the challenge down, we realize that accurate due to code may possibly well well additionally simply additionally be extinct to get entry to copyrighted works doesn’t imply it’ll’t also be extinct to get entry to works in non-infringing ways. We also understood that this challenge’s code has many legitimate applications, along with altering playback speeds for accessibility, keeping evidence within the fight for human rights, assisting journalists if fact be told-checking, and downloading Creative Commons-licensed or public arena videos. After we stumble on it is doable to alter a challenge to scheme end away allegedly infringing declare material, we give the householders of endeavor to repair problems earlier than we scheme end declare material down. If now no longer, they’ll continuously answer to the notification disabling the repository and provide to indulge in modifications, or file a counter glance. 

That’s what took place on this case. First, we were ready to reinstate a fork of youtube-dl after one in every of the fork householders utilized a patch with modifications per the awareness. 

Then, after we acquired unique recordsdata that showed the youtube-dl challenge does now no longer if fact be told violate the DMCA‘s anticircumvention prohibitions, we concluded that the allegations did no longer assign a violation of the law. To boot, the maintainer submitted a patch to the challenge addressing the allegations of infringement per unit assessments referencing copyrighted videos. In step with all of this, we reinstated the youtube-dl challenge and would possibly want to be offering alternatives for reinstatement to all of its forks. 

What we’re altering

Going ahead, we are overhauling our 1201 mumble review job to be obvious that that the following steps are completed earlier than any takedown mumble is processed:

  1. Each single credible 1201 takedown mumble will possible be reviewed by technical consultants, along with when appropriate self reliant consultants retained by GitHub, to be obvious that that the challenge of direction circumvents a technical protection measure as described within the mumble.
  2. The mumble will also be fastidiously scrutinized by lawful consultants to be obvious that that unwarranted claims or claims that lengthen past the boundaries of the DMCA are rejected.
  3. Within the case where the mumble is ambiguous, we can err on the aspect of the developer, and leave up the repository except there is apparent evidence of unlawful circumvention.
  4. Within the tournament that the mumble is figured out to be total, lawful, and technically legitimate by our consultants, we can contact the repository proprietor and give them of endeavor to answer to the mumble or indulge in modifications to the repo to lead clear of a takedown. Within the occasion that they don’t reply, we can are attempting to contact the repository proprietor again earlier than taking any longer steps.
  5. Handiest once these steps had been completed will a repository be taken down.
  6. After a repository is taken down consequently of what appears to be a legitimate and legit 1201 mumble, we can continue to attain out to the repository proprietor within the occasion that they have now no longer already spoke back to us, in uncover to indulge in them the opportunity to accommodate the mumble and restore the repository. 
  7. Even after a repository has been taken down consequently of what appears to be a legitimate mumble, we may possibly well well be obvious that that repository householders can export their disorders and PRs and other repository knowledge that invent now no longer have the alleged circumvention code, where legally doable.
  8. We will have the opportunity to crew our Believe and Safety frontline team to answer to developer tickets in such conditions as a high precedence, so that we may possibly well well additionally simply additionally be obvious that that claims are resolved mercurial and repositories are promptly reinstated once claims had been resolved.

All of that is also done at our score be conscious and at no be conscious to the developers who employ GitHub. We imagine this represents the gold traditional in developer-first 1201 claims facing. Enjoy we invent with all of our location policies, we can file and open source this job so that other corporations that host code or programs can make on it as smartly. And we can continue to refine and toughen this job as our expertise with just a few of these conditions inevitably grows.

Developer protection fund

Builders who’re in my opinion plagued by a takedown glance or other lawful mumble rely on non-profits take care of the Instrument Freedom Legislation center and the Digital Frontier Foundation (EFF) to indulge in them with lawful advice and toughen within the tournament that they face an IP mumble, below the DMCA or otherwise. These organizations provide predominant lawful toughen to developers who would otherwise be on their score, facing off in opposition to huge corporations or consortia.

Nonetheless, developers who’re desirous to push motivate in opposition to unwarranted takedowns may possibly well well additionally simply face the risk of taking on deepest liability and lawful protection costs. To motivate them, GitHub will assign and donate $1M to a developer protection fund to motivate provide protection to open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Half 1201 takedown claims. We will have the opportunity to without delay launch working with other members of the community to space up this fund and scheme end other measures to collectively provide protection to developers and safeguard developer collaboration. 

While you occur to hang to must toughen developers facing lawful challenges, that probabilities are you’ll well additionally scheme end into consideration supporting SFLC and EFF yourself as smartly.

How we’re working to toughen the law

Irrespective of what we invent to present protection to developer rights, we nonetheless must work all the design in which thru the boundaries of the law. And the DMCA’s most modern boundaries are hurting developers. One formulation to accommodate the problems with the DMCA is to work t

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