RIAA: ‘Refocused’ Yout Stream-Ripping Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed

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Yout.com sued the RIAA in 2020 seeking a declaratory judgment that its stream-ripping service is lawful. A second amended complaint filed in September was supposed to provide more detail but according to the RIAA, Yout has failed to describe how its service operates. As such, Yout fails to state a plausible claim so the action should be dismissed with prejudice.

RIAAYout.com’s legal battle with the RIAA, which was instigated by the YouTube-ripping service in 2020, hasn’t been a straightforward affair. The original complaint hoped to achieve a declaratory judgment that the service operates legally but the RIAA has fought back on every detail.

The basis of Yout’s complaint is that it operates an entirely legal service that, contrary to the claims of the RIAA, does not “descramble, decrypt, avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair” YouTube’s so-called ‘rolling cipher technology’ when it allows users to download MP3’s from YouTube. Yout believes its platform simply offers features that already exist in web browsers but makes the process easier.

The music industry group has continually said that no matter how Yout cuts it, YouTube has mechanisms in place to prevent permanent downloads and any system that allows them can be labeled as breaching the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Whether it helps a little or lot, the RIAA says that Yout meets the threshold to be defined as a circumvention tool.

The case has now been live for almost a year, with the RIAA calling for the complaint to be dismissed, Yout arguing otherwise, and the RIAA firing back.

In an apparent effort to get things back on track, the presiding judge dismissed the case without prejudice in August, allowing Yout to file a refocused amended complaint. The YouTube-ripping platform provided plenty of detail to the court but according to the RIAA, Yout hasn’t helped to progress the case.

RIAA Files Motion to Dismiss

In a motion to dismiss and supporting memorandum filed with the court this week, the RIAA criticizes Yout for failing to provide important facts that could help to show whether the service breaches the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Describing the entire lawsuit as being based on “manifestly implausible claims”, the RIAA says key information is still lacking in the second amended complaint.

“[P]laintiff has failed to fix a fundamental deficiency in its pleading: the lack of any detailed description of how the Yout service operates,” the RIAA writes.

“Although Plaintiff has added allegations and screenshots that show what someone sees when he or she visits Plaintiff’s website, and allegations that describe a complicated process by which someone not using Plaintiff’s service can supposedly download a music video from YouTube, Plaintiff has conspicuously avoided alleging facts that explain how Yout actually works.

“Instead, Plaintiff has merely alleged that ‘Yout’s software platform enables a person to complete the process described above [i.e., the process followed by someone not using Yout], but in fewer steps.’ This vague reference to unexplained ‘steps’ is the antithesis of the non-conclusory, factual allegations the law requires.”

Since this information about how Yout operates hasn’t been provided, the RIAA says that the second amended complaint should be dismissed with prejudice, effectively ending the entire case.

Circular Arguments Suggest Little Progress

From the very beginning the basic claims of both sides haven’t really changed but for good measure, the RIAA again highlights details that it believes are important.

It says that Yout is simply one of a number of stream-ripping services online whose “raison d’être is to bypass YouTube’s technological restrictions” to enable digital downloads to users’ devices, contrary to the law. Yout is attempting to “turn the legal tide” against successful cases against similar services in other regions by having a US court give its blessing to something that breaches the DMCA, the RIAA adds.

“Plaintiff’s allegations show that Yout does bypass or avoid YouTube’s TPMs, and Plaintiff does not and cannot plausibly allege that it has the authority of copyright owners to access and copy their works,” its motion reads.

Finally, the RIAA addresses another of Yout’s claims which describes how the RIAA sent DMCA takedown notices to Google, demanding that Yout URLs be delisted from search results. Yout says that these notices should never have been sent since it does not circumvent technical measures, and the RIAA either sent the complaints without carrying out appropriate testing or already knew that the sservice was non-infringing.

Again, the RIAA reiterates an argument it presented earlier. If these were alleged copyright infringement notices that contained misrepresentations, there may be a remedy under the law. However, the RIAA says its notices addressed alleged circumvention issues under the DMCA, which don’t go punished.

“Plaintiff’s Section 512(f) claim is based on RIAA’s notices to Google, which alleged circumvention, not infringement. Even if Section 512(f) were applicable, Plaintiff does not and cannot plausibly allege, as it must, that RIAA knew its allegation was false (it was not),” the music group says.

“Plaintiff cannot plausibly plead state-law defamation or business disparagement claims, both of which require Plaintiff to allege a false statement. Nothing in RIAA’s notices was false. On the contrary, RIAA’s allegation that the Yout service is circumvention technology is true as a matter of law.”

In summary, neither side has moved its original position in any notable way and at this point, only old ground is being covered. Where the case goes from here will have to be determined by the judge.

The RIAA’s motion and supporting memorandum can be found here and here (pdf)


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