GitHub is a code hosting and collaboration platform, which includes version control and git technology. As the software grows and becomes more complex, the core of the software becomes more vulnerable to damage. That is why even while editing, you are not allowed to hit the official source. The version control technology helps to save your modification without damaging the official source. You can do this by merging and branching technologies which help to save your modifications safely before applying them to the whole software.
The Youtube Downloader was removed from GitHub citing certain copyright issues of the Recording Industry Association of America. The downloader was supposed to simply distribute content on GitHub, but the Recording Industry Association of America claimed that it distributed content it was not authorized to do so. The claim is that the Youtube DL was wrongfully using its license to distribute content as a means to distribute unauthorized content. However, for most content developers, the Youtube Downloader was their right hand, and its removal was a cause of consternation for many of the concerned parties.
Now, it has been restored to GitHub due to the outrage against its removal, as many believed that the reasons for its removal were unjustified. GitHub claims that the reasons cited for removal are not fair, as any other website can be used to download and distribute content. Punishing the Youtube DL for an activity which can be done using any website, especially when keeping in mind its importance to teachers, who often download and save content from this platform, or journalists, who often list content from the site as evidence furthering their statement, does not seem a good enough reason to allow for the removal.
It took three weeks for the GitHub platform and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) to analyze the allegations made by the Recording Industry Association of America. They came to the conclusion that the dismissal and removal on said grounds were invalid. GitHub has also stated that the provision invoked for the removal of the Youtube Downloader (Section 1201 of the DMCA, 1990) did not apply in today’s times, as the law did not account for the changes in technology present today. The claim that the code can be used to access unauthorized content does not negate the importance of the fact that the code can be used to access legitimate content and distribute it to make the job of those in the field of content development easier.
We are taking a stand for developers and have reinstated the youtube-dl repo. Section 1201 of the DMCA is broken and needs to be fixed. Developers should have the freedom to tinker. That’s how you get great tools like youtube-dl. https://t.co/k0sbsNN30u
— Nat Friedman (@natfriedman) November 16, 2020
In the case of uncertainty and lack of clarity, GitHub has decided to assume that the error lies with the developer. GitHub has further claimed that they are aware that copyright infringement issues need to be addressed before they can be eradicated, and they further claim that they will impartially scrutinize every copyright infringement claim before providing judgment on the validity of takedown notices. The desire to prevent another Youtube DL like scenario has been made very evident throughout their speeches.
The aim is to ensure that both parties get a fair hearing, post which a decision is pronounced, with reasons given for the same. It can be concluded that the law has both good and bad in it. Lack of anticipation of what the future might hold renders it inapplicable, as has happened in this case. When copyrighted content can be downloaded and viewed in an unauthorized manner anywhere, it seems a little too extreme to punish one application for its cons alone, especially when it has so many pros that pure public outrage resulted in its availability on the very site from where it was removed in the first place.