“As part of their growing battle against popular open source software tool youtube-dl, three major music labels are now suing Uberspace, the company that currently hosts the official youtube-dl homepage,” reports TorrentFreak:
According to plaintiffs Sony, Universal and Warner, youtube-dl circumvents YouTube’s “rolling cipher” technology, something a German court found to be illegal in 2017…. While the RIAA’s effort to take down youtube-dl from GitHub grabbed all the headlines, moves had already been underway weeks before that in Germany. Law firm Rasch works with several major music industry players and it was on their behalf that cease-and-desist orders were sent to local hosting service Uberspace. The RIAA complained that the company was hosting the official youtube-dl website although the tool itself was hosted elsewhere.

“The software itself wasn’t hosted on our systems anyway so, to be honest, I felt it to be quite ridiculous to involve us in this issue anyway — a lawyer specializing in IT laws should know better,” Jonas Pasche from Uberspace said at the time.

In emailed correspondence today Uberspace informed TorrentFreak that, following the cease-and-desist in October 2020, three major music labels are now suing the company in Germany… According to the labels, youtube-dl poses a risk to their business and enables users to download their artists’ copyrighted works by circumventing YouTube’s technical measures. As a result, Uberspace should not be playing a part in the tool’s operations by hosting its website if it does not wish to find itself liable too….

The alleged illegality of youtube-dl is indeed controversial. While YouTube’s terms of service generally disallow downloading, in Germany there is the right to make a private copy, with local rights group GEMA collecting fees to compensate for just that. Equally, when users upload content to YouTube under a Creative Commons license, for example, they agree to others in the community making use of that content. “Even if YouTube doesn’t provide video download functionality right out of the box, the videos are not provided with copy protection,” says former EU MP Julia Reda from the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) to NetzPolitik. “Not only does YouTube pay license fees for music, we all pay fees for the right to private copying in the form of the device fee, which is levied with every purchase of smartphones or storage media,” says Reda.

“Despite this double payment, Sony, Universal and Warner Music want to prevent us from exercising our right to private copying by saving YouTube videos locally on the hard drive.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.