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      GitHub Reinstated YouTube-DL But Restoring Forks is Apparently a Problem

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 17 April, 2021 - 21:37 · 3 minutes

    hithub Last October the RIAA infuriated many players in the open source community by targeting YouTube-ripping tool youtube-dl in a DMCA takedown notice filed at GitHub .

    What followed was a broad backlash against the RIAA, the likes of which hadn’t been seen for many years. The music industry group’s claims of DMCA violations due to the software allegedly bypassing technological protection measures were met with intense criticism, including from the EFF.

    In a surprise move several weeks later, GitHub reinstated the youtube-dl repository after concluding that the code doesn’t violate the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. In addition, GitHub sought to boost its standing with developers by placing $1m into a takedown defense fund.

    “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,” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman explained .

    Dust Settles But The Fix Was Incomplete, Dev Says

    When the RIAA took down GitHub, its DMCA notice affected many developers who had forked the youtube-dl code. Many repositories were listed in the RIAA’s complaint so those were disabled too, replaced with the familiar GitHub page indicating they had been removed for alleged copyright infringement.

    However, despite youtube-dl being reinstated, these forks remain down following the RIAA’s complaint and according to one developer, GitHub isn’t responding to calls to reinstate them.

    In a DMCA counternotice filed this week, the operator of the ‘spookyahell’ repo describes the situation, noting that his previous requests to have his repository restored are being ignored by GitHub.

    youtube-dl fork

    In supporting evidence detailing why the repo should be restored, the developer covers earlier ground noting that the RIAA’s notice was “way too broad”, is believed to be “wildly invalid”, failed to correctly interpret the law, and cited anti-circumvention methods that “do not apply.”

    The dev also points out that when the RIAA cited a German legal process that determined that youtube-dl is illegal, that should be considered irrelevant to the United States since European law has “no place in a DMCA takedown”. The RIAA, for its part, insists that the relevant German law is “materially identical to Title 17 U.S.C. §1201 of the United States Code.”

    This Dev is Clearly Irritated

    While the developer appears to accept that GitHub eventually stood up to the RIAA, he isn’t entirely convinced of the coding platform’s overall support.

    “[I]t seems like GitHub is still kinda ‘the bitch of the RIAA’ because they side with RIAA rather than developers who wish to reinstate the repos (unchanged) which according to the EFF would be perfectly legal,” his notice reads.

    “The issues that raised from this takedown have lead to a major statement from github and change of already in-place policies and it seems they had to re-convince the developers that they actually support developers. The action they are taking with the actual forks however is unconvincing of their so-called principals [sic].”

    The dev continues by stating that in addition to restoring the original project, GitHub should’ve reinstated all the forks as well, while notifying the RIAA that its claims were wrong. However, there are some important issues that the counternotice doesn’t address.

    While youtube-dl was indeed reinstated, that didn’t take place before the original code was tweaked. Its functionality doesn’t appear to have been degraded but an examination of the code reveals that before it was put back, modifications took place to remove references to copyright works, including a song by Taylor Swift.

    If we work on the premise that GitHub believed that these changes were enough to ease youtube-dl back onto the non-infringing side of the fence, then any original forks would still relate to the unmodified code, meaning that the RIAA’s original takedown notice would carry more weight.

    This probably explains why GitHub hasn’t reinstated this developer’s repository on request, despite the filing of a counternotice.

    Technically speaking, GitHub still has a number of days left before it needs to reinstate the fork under the DMCA, pending the filing of a lawsuit by the RIAA. However, since the music group has had since October to take action against youtube-dl itself, that doesn’t seem likely.

    To learn more about how Github views the situation, TorrentFreak contacted CEO Nat Friedman for additional information, including whether youtube-dl forks will be restored automatically or if devs need to file an official DMCA counternotice. Friedman did not immediately respond to our request for comment but it seems likely that devs will have to let their original forks go and fork the modified project instead.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Nigerian ‘Scam Artist’ Used Apple, Amazon and Tidal to Cash in on Pirated Music

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 10 April, 2021 - 11:20 · 3 minutes

    wisekid Legal streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have been the music industry’s most effective weapon against piracy.

    Many people don’t even bother ripping or downloading albums of tracks nowadays. The legal alternatives are just more convenient.

    Despite this success, legal streaming platforms have their challenges as well. For years, artists have complained about low payouts. And to make things worse, ‘pirates’ are starting to abuse legal services as well now.

    Pirated Music on Legal Streaming Services

    A few weeks ago we reported that the RIAA was sending DMCA takedown notices that targeted Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, and various other legal music outlets . Apparently, some artists were using the works of others without permission.

    At the time we weren’t sure if this was intentional or a mere licensing dispute. The RIAA didn’t respond to our questions on the matter. However, this week we spotted yet another takedown notice and, this time, there is more of a backstory.

    On Wednesday the RIAA sent a takedown notice to Google identifying several infringing URLs on the legal streaming service Tidal. The links point to tracks that were published by Nigerian artist Wisekid but, according to the takedown request, they are from the local music star Wizkid .

    Wisekid Rips Off Wizkid

    Looking more closely at the matter, we quickly noticed that Wisekid appeared to have uploaded an entire album from Wizkid, passing it off as his own.

    The album in question, titled “Lasgidi Made” is the same as Wizkid’s “Made in Lagos,” but the track order and titles have been changed, apparently to make the similarity less obvious.

    wisekid amazon

    This ‘pirated’ album made its way onto popular music services including Apple Music, Amazon, and Tidal, and reportedly generated substantial revenue for the scam artist.

    Millions of Streams

    Apparently, Wisekid was quite proud of his accomplishments as he posted a screenshot on Twitter showing off that he had millions of streams and more than a thousand digital sales on Apple’s service. This is when things started to go downhill.

    wisekid revenue

    Several commenters on social media noticed the similarities between Wizkid and Wisekid, accusing the latter of running a scam and ripping off a hard-working musician.

    Wisekid, however, claimed to be innocent. Instead, he indirectly blamed his distribution company “Freeme Digital” for being responsible. Or in his own words (edited for readability);

    “I don’t know who did that. I just accessed my apple artist name I saw streams. I just wanted to get people to check me out nothing more,” he wrote.

    “Freeme Digital is the company that distributes all my songs. I’m just an upcoming artist and I know nothing about this. Please, I am not the one distributing Wizkid’s album on apple music.”

    Deny and Delete

    Soon after, the news was picked up by the Nigerian press while Wisekid removed his Twitter profile. Around the same time, the distribution company responded to the controversy, denying any involvement.

    While Freeme Digital indeed worked with Wisekid, the company said that the ‘Lasgidi Made’ album was not distributed via their platform. The company also decided to cut its ties with the artist.

    “We will be deleting the rest of Wisekid’s content on our platform and we have informed our legal team to immediately commence investigation on the issue and prosecute the matter to the full extent of the law.”

    Removing Pirated music (and More)

    Meanwhile, Wizkid’s management said it was working hard to take down the illegal uploads across all digital platforms. The RIAA helped out as well, which brings us back to the takedown notice we spotted on Wednesday.

    In addition to the RIAA, UK-based industry group BPI also sent a takedown notice identifying Wisekid’s infringing upload. Sadly, this notice also flagged several news reports as copyright infringement, but that’s a different rabbit hole.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Yout v RIAA: Use of Technical Protection Measure Does Not Equal Abuse

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 4 March, 2021 - 18:20 · 4 minutes

    RIAA In the wake of the RIAA’s effort to have ripping tool youtube-dl removed from Github , YouTube-ripping service Yout.com went on the offensive.

    In a complaint filed at a Connecticut court, Yout argued that previous actions by the RIAA against its service, including the delisting of its homepage from Google based on the allegation that Yout circumvented YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’ technology, were wrongful and damaged its business.

    RIAA Fights Back

    As reported in January, the RIAA presented a robust response in a motion to dismiss, noting that just because Yout had “figured out” how to defeat the YouTube rolling cipher, that did not make the Technological Protection Measure (TPM) any less eligible for protection under section 1201 versus one that could not be defeated.

    “Plaintiff concedes that it ‘encounters’ the rolling cipher and then ‘reads and interprets the JavaScript program’ and ‘derives a signature value’ to access the file,” the RIAA wrote .

    “The only reasonable inference to draw from those vague allegations is that the Yout service enables users to avoid or bypass that technological measure—that is the very definition of circumventing a TPM under section 1201.”

    Furthermore, in response to Yout’s claims that the RIAA must’ve known that the service did not circumvent technical measures and therefore shouldn’t have filed DMCA notices against it, the RIAA pointed out that under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) , only misrepresentations regarding alleged copyright infringement are available, not misrepresentations regarding alleged circumvention.

    Yout’s Opposition to RIAA’s Motion to Dismiss

    In Yout’s latest response, the stream-ripping service reiterates that it does not decrypt, bypass or avoid any measures on YouTube as the necessary information to access streams is freely available to anyone who seeks it. Yout describes that as essentially a “copy/paste” scenario, as provided for by any online content stream.

    Yout’s Mere Use of the Signature Value Does Not Violate 17 USC §1201

    The company says that the words “avoid” and “bypass” suggest ‘abuse’, countering that what its service actually does it ‘use’ a technological measure, which is an entirely different matter. Citing an earlier case involving DISH Network, Yout says that by utilizing the intended mechanism for decryption, no bypassing, avoidance or bypassing of a system took place.

    “Here, the methodology employed by Yout is analogous. Yout utilizes the same signature value freely distributed by any video-sharing website, such as YouTube. This is the exact same signature value that appears to any web browser,” Yout’s response reads.

    “Yout need not decrypt, bypass, or avoid anything as these signature values are freely given, and Yout uses the value, not in any cryptic way, but just as it is provided by any video-sharing website to anyone that requests it.

    “Anyone can access and use the signature value of any free streaming content’s [sic] using only a browser, without other software, youtube-dl, the Yout service, or any similar tool,” Yout writes.

    RIAA has not Identified any Copyrighted Works at Issue

    Running with the claim that Yout does not circumvent any effective technological protection measure, the company says that the requirement that circumvention takes place without the permission of the copyright holder is not reached. However, the fact remains that the RIAA has failed to identify any copyrighted works that have allegedly been infringed.

    “To prove a violation of § 1201, Defendant’s members must show not only circumvention but that the circumvention results in access to a copyrighted work. However, nothing in the RIAA’s notices references ownership of any specific copyrighted work purportedly protected by the rolling cipher,” Yout’s response reads.

    Yout acknowledges that case law potentially raises complications but reminds the Court that the RIAA’s notices clearly accuse Yout of facilitating copyright infringement, specifically contributory copyright infringement. This leads Yout to raise the issue of misrepresentations in the RIAA’s DMCA notices and the music group’s claim that under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f), penalties are only available for misrepresentations regarding alleged copyright infringement.

    Settlement Conference Has Been Scheduled

    After Yout asked the Court to reject the RIAA’s motion to dismiss, United States Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson reported that a video settlement conference had been arranged for May 5, 2021, with both parties ordered to attend.

    The Judge’s order requires Yout to have someone attend with full and final authority to dismiss the case with prejudice and to accept any settlement amount or offer. The RIAA must be represented by someone with the authority to commit to a settlement amount.

    “The purpose of this requirement is to have in attendance a person with both the authority and independence to settle the case during the settlement conference without consulting anyone not present,” the order reads.

    Not less than 14 days before the conference date, the parties are required to begin negotiating the terms of any settlement.

    Yout’s Response to RIAA’s Motion to Dismiss / Conference Order here and here (pdf)

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      RIAA: Not Even Improper YouTube ‘Rolling Cipher’ Complaints Can Be Countered

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Monday, 18 January, 2021 - 19:20 · 4 minutes

    RIAA After the RIAA caused outraged by filing a complaint that took down the open source software YouTube-DL from Github, YouTube-ripping service Yout.com sued the music industry group .

    In common with its claim against youtube-dl, the RIAA had previously asked Google to delist Yout.com’s homepage on the basis that it too circumvented YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’ technology. With both Github and the EFF arguing that youtube-dl’s features amount to little more than those already available in web browsers, an emboldened Yout.com hoped to take the fight to the RIAA and have itself declared legal .

    RIAA Fights Back: YouTube’s Rolling Cipher is a TPM

    In a motion to dismiss filed in a Connecticut district court, the RIAA is now attempting to remove the basics underpinning the entire Yout.com action. Apparently undeterred by the controversy surrounding YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’ and its characterization as being somewhat ineffective, the RIAA says that according to copyright law, the threshold for a Technological Protection Measure (TPM) is already low.

    “[T]he allegation that Plaintiff or others with technical expertise have figured out how to defeat the rolling cipher does not establish that the rolling cipher is ineffective for purposes of section 1201. If Plaintiff’s position were correct, it would amount to a free pass because the statute would only apply to those TPMs that could not be defeated,” the motion reads.

    “For this reason, numerous courts have rejected the same argument upon which Plaintiff bases its claim about the alleged ineffectiveness of the YouTube rolling cipher.”

    In short, just because YouTube’s measures are easily bypassed, it doesn’t mean they can’t be considered effective. According to the RIAA, this is due to section 1201 of the DMCA considering the abilities of an “ordinary” or “average” consumer, not those of “an online security engineer with a background in computer science” – a reference to Mitch Stoltz of the EFF, who authored a third-party letter in the youtube-dl matter.

    “[T]he letter acknowledges that a German court has concluded, among other things, that circumventing the YouTube rolling cipher is ‘beyond the capabilities of the average user,’ and that it ‘was on this basis that the court declared the code to be an effective technical measure under Germany’s analogue of Section 1201. Plaintiff’s allegations therefore allow for only one plausible inference: the YouTube rolling cipher is an effective TPM,” the RIAA adds.

    RIAA: Yout’s Non Circumvention Claims Fail

    Yout.com’s lawsuit seeks a declaration from the court that the service does not circumvent YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’ but according to the RIAA, that effort should fail. Circumvention means “to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner,” the RIAA writes, noting that Yout’s claim that it does none of these things isn’t plausible.

    Referencing Yout’s complaint, the RIAA notes that the company admits that its entire purpose is to give users the ability to copy audio from YouTube in MP3 format locally, allowing that content to be consumed offline. The RIAA says that YouTube aims to prevent users from “turning certain streams into downloads” and the method used to enforce that is its ‘rolling cipher’.

    “Plaintiff concedes that it ‘encounters’ the rolling cipher and then ‘reads and interprets the JavaScript program’ and ‘derives a signature value’ to access the file,” the RIAA writes.

    “The only reasonable inference to draw from those vague allegations is that the Yout service enables users to avoid or bypass that technological measure—that is the very definition of circumventing a TPM under section 1201. For this straightforward reason, Plaintiff cannot plausibly allege a claim for declaratory judgment under section 1201.”

    RIAA: Even Improper Anti-Circumvention Notices Can’t Be Countered

    As mentioned earlier, the RIAA previously sent DMCA takedown notices to Google, demanding that Yout URLs should be delisted from search results on the basis that the Yout service itself is a circumvention technology.

    Yout’s lawsuit states that since it does not circumvent technical measures, the RIAA either sent the complaints without carrying out appropriate testing or already knew that the site was non-infringing. As a result, Yout is entitled to compensation due to the RIAA interfering with the relationships between Yout and its customers, partners, and potential users.

    Not so, says the RIAA, as no claim is available under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) .

    “Plaintiff’s claim fails as a matter of law because the statutory text makes clear that
    section 512(f) penalizes only misrepresentations regarding alleged copyright infringement , but not misrepresentations regarding alleged circumvention ,” its motion reads.

    Citing the Arista Records, Inc. v. Mp3Board, Inc. case, the RIAA states that Section 512 “only penalizes copyright holders for knowingly materially misrepresenting ‘that material or activity is infringing.’ It does not provide a cause of action for knowingly materially misrepresenting [other claims].”

    In other words, the RIAA believes it doesn’t matter whether the anti-circumvention notices were improper or otherwise since claims under Section 512 are limited to when there are misrepresentations of copyright infringement, not allegations of breaching technological measures.

    Furthermore, even if Yout could state a claim for alleged misrepresentations, the RIAA says that the company has failed to plausibly allege that the music group knew that the Yout service did not circumvent YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’.

    “Plaintiff alleges that ‘Defendants failed to determine whether Yout’s software platform would, in fact, circumvent [YouTube’s rolling cipher] by testing the platform” with protected works. But purportedly failing to perform an adequate investigation is insufficient to establish a section 512(f) claim,” the RIAA adds.

    As a result of the above and other issues that rest upon them, the RIAA believes that Yout’s first amended complaint should be dismissed by the court.

    The RIAA’s motion to dismiss can be found here and here (pdf)

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      YouTube-DL Dispute Helps Yout.com Enhance Lawsuit Against RIAA

      Andy Maxwell · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Thursday, 17 December, 2020 - 18:25 · 3 minutes

    RIAA During October, the RIAA ignited a fierce debate and significant outrage when it filed a complaint that took down the open source software youtube-dl from Github.

    The music industry group stated that the “clear purpose” of youtube-dl was to “circumvent the technological protection measures” used by YouTube to “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use.”

    Pre-Emptive Strike By YouTube-Ripper Yout

    Just days later with public opinion swinging strongly in youtube-dl’s favor, YouTube-ripping platform Yout seized the opportunity to sue the RIAA . Yout had previously been targeted with similar allegations, including that Yout is an illegal tool that violates Section 1201 of the DMCA by circumventing YouTube’s “technical protection measures.”

    Dismissing the RIAA’s claims as baseless, Yout’s complaint outlined various actions taken by the label group that ended up damaging its business. For example, Google took the RIAA’s copyright complaints at face value and delisted Yout from its search results. On top, the public takedown notices also devalued Yout’s business by tarnishing its reputation, the company explained.

    Amended Complaint Highlights Additional Damage

    In an amended complaint filed in a Connecticut court this week, Yout repeated many of the allegations contained in its original complaint. However, a new piece of information suggests that the RIAA also used its powers to attack Yout’s ability to make and receive money.

    Yout says that in response to searches for its platform, Yout’s customers were informed by Google that due to copyright complaints received against Yout.com, results had been removed at the behest of the RIAA. This, the platform claims, ended up in Yout customers canceling their subscriptions.

    Furthermore, Yout claims that the RIAA also used its powers to limit its ability to receive process payments.

    “On information and belief, Defendants’ DMCA notices have caused PayPal to shut down Yout’s account, causing Yout further significant monetary and reputational damage,” the filing reads.

    “The Defendants acted with intent and actual malice when they engaged in the foregoing conduct because they intended to harm the Plaintiffs.”

    Enhanced Rejections of Anti-Circumvention Allegations

    In Yout’s original complaint the platform described itself as a time-shifting service that, in the absence of any specific circumvention of technological copyright protection, cannot be in violation of the anti-circumvention measures of the DMCA.

    Indeed, Yout flatly denied circumventing any of YouTube’s protection measures, including its so-called “rolling cipher”, the mechanism at the very heart of the RIAA’s complaint against youtube-dl. What is interesting in Yout’s amended complaint is that it now makes enhanced claims and denials, which show clear signs of benefiting from the EFF’s and Github’s legal stance in the youtube-dl matter.

    “[T]he rolling cipher mechanism employed by YouTube does not prevent copying of videos or other digital media,” Yout’s amended complaint reads.

    “Yout’s software platform works the same way as a browser when it encounters
    the signature mechanism: it reads and interprets the JavaScript program sent by YouTube, derives a signature value [referred to by RIAA as a ‘rolling cipher’], and sends that value back to YouTube to initiate the video stream

    “Yout’s software platform contains no password, key, or other secret knowledge that is required to access YouTube videos. It simply uses the same mechanism that YouTube presents to each and every user who views a video,” the company adds.

    In a nutshell, Yout says that it cannot circumvent the rolling cipher (as defined in the DMCA) because YouTube itself provides the means to access video streams to anyone who asks for them.

    “[O]ne cannot ‘circumvent’ an access control by using publicly available means,” the platform concludes.

    Targeting YouTube-DL Proves Counterproductive

    Whether the RIAA anticipated the backlash in response to its targeting of youtube-dl or not, it now faces a significantly more difficult struggle to suppress similar tools and services. With the EFF and Github now heavily involved, it’s no longer a simple case of sending takedown notices and watching tools disappear.

    And, as Yout’s lawsuit shows, there could be additional legal repercussions too, including a potential effect on long-running cases that the RIAA is already embroiled in .

    Yout’s amended complaint can be found here (pdf)

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      RIAA: Twitter Does Nothing to Stop the Industrial Scale Piracy on Its Service

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 16 December, 2020 - 21:01 · 4 minutes

    Twitter Pirate The US Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is looking for better ways to tackle the ever-present threat of online piracy.

    Specifically, it’s working with various stakeholders to see if the DMCA can be improved to better suit today’s online environment.

    During a hearing yesterday , Senators received input from various stakeholders on the role of voluntary agreements and existing anti-piracy technologies. YouTube, for example, explained its Content-ID system and Facebook showed how its Rights Manager tool helps copyright holders.

    Twitter Refused to Attend

    Twitter was also invited to testify but the company refused to attend . This frustrated lawmakers, including Senator Thom Tillis, who repeatedly asked Twitter to join the discussion. When that didn’t happen Tillis sent a series of written questions, but the “non-answers” the company sent back only appear to have made things worse.

    The lawmakers are not alone in their critique of Twitter. As expected, they were fully supported by the RIAA, which was present to represent the music industry. RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier specifically mentioned the social media platform in his opening statement.

    Glazier argued that the current takedown system is highly ineffective and he used Twitter as an example. Over the past year, the RIAA has tried to keep a single music track off Twitter, but despite thousands of notices, it kept reappearing.

    “As a result, over a 10-month period, RIAA had to send notices for nearly 9,000 infringements of that same track – let me repeat that. We had to send 9,000 notices over a 10-month period for the same exact track. Unfortunately, we must do this all the time for hundreds of tracks on many different services,” Glazier said.

    Hiding Behind the Safe Harbor

    The RIAA would like Twitter and other platforms to keep infringing files offline indefinitely. A so-called takedown and staydown policy. In addition, copyright holders should be allowed to effectively monitor and report infringements. However, companies such as Twitter prefer to do very little and hide behind their safe harbor protection, Glazier said.

    “They could solve the piracy problem voluntarily tomorrow if they had the will and incentive to do so. Unfortunately, the DMCA safe harbors have been interpreted to apply so broadly that platforms do not have the business incentive to participate in a balanced system.”

    RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier

    mitch glazier riaa

    The Twitter-bashing continued during the questioning round. Senator Mazie Hirono stressed that Twitter hasn’t shown to be a “willing partner” for copyright holders and asked Glazier to elaborate.

    RIAA’s CEO gladly complied and said that the music industry has sent more than three million notices to Twitter over the past two years, identifying 20,000 works. That’s an average of 150 notices per track, and things aren’t improving.

    Industrial Scale Piracy

    “This is piracy on an industrial massive scale. This is not some small problem,” Glazier said. “Unlike Facebook and YouTube, they have done nothing to at least try to build tools, or to help prevent what is by its nature a viral system where piracy can spread literally in microseconds.”

    The takedown efforts are complicated because the RIAA and its members don’t have an effective system to search Twitter for copyright infringements. The social media platform is willing to offer this, but not for free.

    “They really don’t offer us the ability to search their universe for infringements. We have asked for it many many times and they want to charge us,” Glazier said.

    “And then when we send them notices it can take anywhere between four hours and four days to take one thing down while we’ve got millions of pieces spreading at the same time. It’s a huge problem,” he adds.

    Twitter was not the only company to be called out. Senator Mazie Hirono also asked RIAA’s CEO about the role of domain name registrars, which offer services to pirate sites. Again, Glazier said that this is a huge problem.

    Domain Registrars Protect Pirates

    “Domain name registrars and their role in allowing piracy to happen through their systems is a huge problem. Very few domain name registrars are doing very little. Both at the registrar and at the registry level.”

    Glazier notes that there are voluntary agreements with a select group of domain registrars. However, most simply do nothing. They simply keep pirate domains online. And when copyright holders ask them to help identify bad actors, they refuse to cooperate.

    “When we go to them and say: ‘help us to find the pirates’ so we can go against them directly, they won’t give the name of the pirate. They hide their identity and help them become anonymous and they say that it’s because of privacy laws. That they need to protect the criminals. Which is ridiculous.”

    “Privacy laws are meant to protect consumers, they are not meant to protect criminals,” Glazier adds.

    If Not Voluntary, Then…

    The RIAA would like the law to make it clear that intermediaries, including domain registrars and registries, have to do more. The same is true for services that host content. The current takedown process simply doesn’t cut it, it’s a sham.

    While the hearing was supposed to be about voluntary and private agreements to help fight piracy, the threat of stricter regulation may be needed.

    The RIAA applauded the work of Facebook and YouTube but, reading between the lines, Glazier suggests that Twitter and other companies may need a bigger push from lawmakers to come to the table.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Record Labels Secure Big Win in Piracy Lawsuit Against Spinrilla

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 1 December, 2020 - 19:51 · 4 minutes

    spinrilla Operating a mixtape site is not without risk. By definition, mixes include multiple sound recordings that are often protected by copyright.

    Popular hip-hop mixtape site and app Spinrilla , which has millions of users, is well aware of these risks. In 2017, the company was sued by several record labels, backed by the RIAA, that accused the company of massive copyright infringement.

    “Spinrilla specializes in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free,” the RIAA commented at the time.

    Spinrilla Fights Piracy Accusations

    The hip-hop site countered the allegations by pointing out that it installed an RIAA-approved anti-piracy filter and actively worked with major record labels to promote their tracks . In addition, Spinrilla stressed that the DMCA’s safe harbor protects the company.

    As the case progressed both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The music companies requested rulings to establish, before trial, that Spinrilla is liable for direct copyright infringement and that the DMCA safe harbor doesn’t apply.

    Spinrilla countered this with cross-motions, filed under seal, in which they argued the opposite.

    Court: Spinrilla is Liable

    This week, US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled on the requests. The 47-page order is good news for the music companies, as the court agrees that Spinrilla is liable for direct copyright infringement.

    In her ruling, Judge Totenberg writes that Spinrilla admitted that 4,082 copyrighted sound recordings were streamed at least once through its website or app. The mixtape service failed, however, to offer a usable counterargument to this claim.

    Spinrilla’s legal team brought up several cases in the company’s defense, but these all deal with uploading and downloading of infringing content, not streaming. Also, the cited cases are not about infringements of the public performance right, contrary to the present lawsuit.

    Streaming vs. Downloading

    This is a problem because the record labels highlighted cases where courts held that streaming can be a direct infringement of exclusive performance rights, even when the streaming occurs at the request of the user. That’s what happened at Spinrilla.

    “Here, Plaintiffs do not rely solely on uploads and downloads of their music to and from Spinrilla. Defendants have created an interactive internet player that streams copyrighted content directly from its website and mobile app,” Judge Totenberg writes.

    As a result, Spinrilla is held liable for directly infringing the copyrights of the 4,082 sound recordings that were listed in the complaint.

    “Defendants have infringed Plaintiffs’ exclusive right ‘to perform’ their copyrighted sound recordings ‘publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.’ Therefore, Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on their claim of direct infringement of the 4,082 works in suit.”

    With the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per work, this opens the door to an astronomical award of more than $600 million dollars. And that’s not the end of the bad news for Spinrilla.

    Limited Safe Harbor

    The court also ruled that the mixtape service is not eligible for a DMCA safe harbor defense before July 2017. While the site and app have accepted takedown notices for many years, they didn’t register a DMCA agent with the Copyright Office, which is a requirement.

    Spinrilla first registered a DMCA agent in 2017, five months after the lawsuit started. In addition, it didn’t have a repeat infringer policy before July that year, another requirement for safe harbor protection.

    “Consequently, the undisputed facts demonstrate that Defendants did not satisfy all of the required elements to be eligible for safe harbor defense until July 29, 2017, which is when they first designated an agent with the U.S. Copyright Office and had adopted a repeat infringer policy,” Judge Totenberg writes.

    This means that Spinrilla can only invoke the safe harbor defense for infringement that occurred after that date.

    The record labels asked the court to go even further, arguing that Spinrilla’s repeat infringer policy wasn’t “reasonably implemented,” because not all repeat infringers were terminated. However, the court rejected this, as the 4,082 sound recordings didn’t include any tracks that were uploaded by known repeat infringers.

    Record Labels are Happy

    Overall, however, the record labels are very pleased with this significant win. With streaming becoming the norm today, this case is crucial.

    “We are gratified by the court’s decision, which sends a message that online streaming providers cannot hide behind the actions of their users to avoid their own liability for copyright infringement that occurs through their systems,” Kenneth Doroshow, RIAA Chief Legal Officer says.

    “The court got it exactly right on several key points of copyright law in the digital streaming context, and we hope that it serves as a lodestar for other courts and service providers alike.”

    The RIAA, which represents the major record labels, is also happy that the ruling confirms that mistakes can be just as infringing as posting full sound recordings.

    While the ruling is an early win for the music companies, the case isn’t over just yet. There are still matters that have to be decided at trial, including the scale of the damages, if these are awarded. Alternatively, the parties can try to resolve the matter through a mediation process.

    At the same time, Spinrilla is also involved in a legal battle with the RIAA directly. The mixtape site sued the industry group earlier this year, accusing it of sending false DMCA takedown notices . That case remains pending.

    A copy of the order issued yesterday by US District Court Judge Amy Totenberg is available here (pdf)

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      GitHub agrees RIAA claim is bunk, restores popular YouTube download tool

      Kate Cox · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 17 November, 2020 - 21:18 · 1 minute

    A sign in the shape of the YouTube logo juts out over a glass wall.

    Enlarge / A sign featuring the YouTube logo, outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019. (credit: Olly Curtis | Future | Getty Images )

    GitHub has reversed its decision to boot YouTube-dl, a popular tool for archiving YouTube videos, from its platform. The company restored repositories this week after "additional information" convinced it that an archiving tool is not in and of itself a copyright violation—no matter what the music industry says.

    The repositories in question got shut down in late October, before coming back yesterday. "We share developers' frustration with this takedown—especially since this project has many legitimate purposes," GitHub explained in a corporate blog post . "Our actions were driven by processes required to comply with laws like the DMCA that put platforms like GitHub and developers in a difficult spot. And our reinstatement, based on new information that showed the project was not circumventing a technical protection measure (TPM), was inline with our values of putting developers first."

    The initial takedown occurred after the Recording Industry Association of America filed a claim with Microsoft-owned GitHub arguing that the code in those repositories was inherently illegal under US copyright law. At a high level, the law in question basically makes it illegal to crack or bypass DRM in any way, except for a handful of enumerated exemptions .

    Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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      RIAA’s YouTube-DL Takedown Ticks Off Developers and GitHub’s CEO

      Ernesto Van der Sar · news.movim.eu / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 27 October, 2020 - 15:22 · 5 minutes

    github pirate The music industry has increased its enforcement actions against stream-ripping tools and services in recent years.

    The RIAA and other music groups have filed lawsuits, sent cease and desist orders, and issued numerous DMCA takedown notices.

    RIAA Takes Down Youtube-DL

    Until recently these efforts were hardly noticed by the public at large but late last week something changed. When the RIAA targeted the very popular open-source tool YouTube-DL, many people responded in anger.

    Last Friday the RIAA asked the developer platform GitHub to remove the YouTube-DL code and various forks because it allegedly violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

    By enabling the public to download content from YouTube, the tool allegedly bypasses YouTube ‘rolling cipher’ protection. Not just that, the code also included links to copyrighted works to illustrate its use.

    Cease and Desist Notices

    Following our initial coverage, we learned that the pressure against YouTube-DL had already started weeks earlier in Germany. Law firm Rasch, which works with several major music industry players, sent out cease and desist orders in the hope of taking YouTube-DL offline.

    Hosting service Uberspace was one of the recipients. The company hosts the official YouTube-DL site and still does so today. Instead of taking the website down, Uberspace replied to the notice through its own lawyer, who said that the hosting company hasn’t don’t anything wrong.

    When the cease and desist notice was filed, yt-dl.org wasn’t even hosting the tool, as all download links pointed to GitHub, the company informs us.

    “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 from Uberspace says.

    Former Maintainer Tageted as Well

    The host wasn’t the only entity to be targeted. The German law firm also sent a cease and desist notice to developer Philipp Hagemeister who previously maintained the YouTube-DL repository. He also denies the accusations.

    “They did not understand that I was no longer a maintainer, basically alleged that youtube-dl was an illegal enterprise rather than a legit open-source project, and misunderstood a bunch of other technical stuff,” Hagemeister tells TorrentFreak.

    Both Uberspace and Hagemeister don’t want to go into too much detail as this is a pending legal issue. However, both defend their actions in relation to YouTube-DL. And they’re not the only ones who were ticked off by the enforcement actions, as we learned this weekend.

    Takedown Backfires as Copies are Everywhere

    Soon after the RIAA notice took YouTube-DL offline many developers spoke out in protest. They believe that the music industry group went too far and started to republish copies of the code everywhere.

    Over the past several days, we have seen hundreds of new forks and copies appear online. These were also posted to GitHub , where YouTube-DL forks remain easy to find and continue to be uploaded.

    The code was also posted in some places one wouldn’t expect. For example, there’s still a copy in GitHub’s DMCA notice repository, which some people find quite amusing. And the list of pull requests can be quite entertaining in themselves.

    One of the most creative responses we’ve seen was posted to Twitter by @GalacticFurball who encoded YouTube-DL into images that can be easily shared, encouraging others to share these as well.

    “I would also suggest that you save and repost the images, as one single source kind of defeats the point. Maybe start a hashtag trend or something. Make songs, and poetry. Get that data out there.”

    youtube-dl image

    This triggered even more creativity, with people finding alternative means to share the code online, all to counter the RIAA’s takedown request.

    GitHub’s CEO Offers to Help YouTube-DL

    Meanwhile, GitHub’s CEO Nat Friedman wasn’t sitting still either. While the Microsoft-owned developer platform had to respond to the takedown notice, Friedman himself actively reached out to YouTube-DL’s developers to help them get their project reinstated.

    The CEO joined YouTube-DL’s IRC channel hoping to connect with the owner of the repository so he can help to get it unsuspended.

    “GitHub exists to help developers. We never want to interfere with their work. We want to help the youtube-dl maintainers defeat the DMCA claim so that we can restore the repo,” Friedman told TorrentFreak, explaining his actions.

    It’s clear that GitHub exists to help developers. That said, for the company’s CEO to jump in and personally help someone to respond to a DMCA claim, is quite unprecedented. As it turns out, the RIAA’s notice ticked off Friedman as well.

    “This one annoyed me,” Friedman says.

    “Perhaps because of the importance of tools like youtube-dl for archivists, and our related archive program and funding of the Internet Archive: We are thinking about how GitHub can proactively help developers in more DMCA cases going forward, and take a more active role in reforming/repealing 1201.”

    GitHub’s CEO suggested that YouTube-DL won’t be reinstated in its original form. But, the software may be able to return without the rolling cipher circumvention code and the examples of how to download copyrighted material.

    RIAA Efforts Backfire

    By now it is clear that the RIAA’s takedown notice backfired badly. With the ‘Streisand Effect’ in full swing, there are now probably more copies of YouTube-DL online than there ever were.

    However, there is more. Reading between the lines Friedman suggests that the current DMCA rules may be too strong in some cases. For example, tools like YouTube-DL have non-infringing uses, and there can be upsides to circumventing copy protections as well. To archive content, for example.

    This issue may eventually become a policy question. Every four years the US Copyright Office grants new exemptions to the DMCA section 1201 anti-circumvention rules, and it wouldn’t surprise if these tools are put on the agenda in the future.

    Instead of simply taking down YouTube-DL, the RIAA may have actually poked the bear and increased support for such tools. Not only from developers at home, but also from big players such as GitHub. Putting that cat back in the bag is not going to be easy.

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.