In 2020, YouTube-ripper Yout.com sued the RIAA, asking a Connecticut district court to declare that the site does not violate the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.
This was a bold move, but not one without consequences. After a legal battle of nearly two years, the verdict meant disappointment for Yout.
Last October, Judge Stefan Underhill ultimately concluded that the service had failed to show that it doesn’t circumvent YouTube’s technological protection measures. Soon after, the RIAA submitted a request to have Yout pay $250,000 in attorneys fees incurred by the RIAA thus far.
Motion to Stay
Yout is not giving up on the case. Site operator Johnathan Nader will appeal the case as he believes that YouTube rippers don’t violate the DMCA. A few weeks ago, his legal team requested the court to put the attorney fees decision on hold while his appeal is pending.
The appeal could be crippled if any fees have to be paid right away, Yout argued. This would cause irreparable harm, one of the factors that weigh in favor of granting a stay.
The RIAA has a different outlook on the matter. The music group asked the court to deny Yout’s request because, among other things, it doesn’t believe that Yout lacks the means to fund its legal campaign.
“The record in this case suggests that Yout does not lack resources: Yout admits that its service is still operational and it has hired three new lawyers for the appeal,” the RIAA writes in its opposition brief.
Even if Yout does lack resources, it wouldn’t necessarily be irreparably harmed. It has the option of posting a bond and appealing that decision while the appeal is pending, which will conserve financial resources, the RIAA says.
The RIAA further argues that Yout is unlikely to win on appeal, which weighs against a stay. In addition, the RIAA says that it would be harmed by any further delays because it’s already $250,000 out of pocket after defending itself against the “meritless suit”.
Yout told the court that staying the matter would be in the public interest, as many other site operators and the public at large are affected by the verdict, which essentially declared commonly used YouTube ripping tools illegal.
The RIAA’s response turns this argument on its head. The music group says that protecting artists’ copyrights is in the public interest too.
“Yout correctly states that copyright protection serves the public interest — but has the analysis exactly backward. Those interests are served by protecting creators of music from the massive circumvention of technological measures for which Yout is liable.”
The Copyright Act allows rightsholders to request attorneys’ fees to deter parties from bringing unreasonable claims without repercussions. That is exactly what’s at stake here, the RIAA believes.
A copy of RIAA’s opposition to Yout’s request to stay the motion for attorneys fees is available here (pdf)