Most recently the site and its operator Johnathan Nader became the target of a criminal prosecution in Brazil, which resulted in the site being blocked.
Yout.com vs. RIAA
Meanwhile, in the United States, Yout is also engaged in a legal dispute that could potentially eclipse all previous rulings. In a preemptive move, Yout sued the music industry organization RIAA, hoping that the court will declare the service as non-infringing.
The case has been ongoing for more than a year. The federal court in Connecticut dismissed Yout’s first complaint due to a lack of details. With an amended version Yout aimed to fill in the blanks but the RIAA asked to have this dismissed as well.
At the heart of the dispute is the question of whether Yout’s service violates the DMCA’s provision that prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs). The RIAA clearly thinks that it does, but the YouTube ripper disagrees.
Technological Protection Measures
Yout doesn’t believe that YouTube has any effective technological protection measures to begin with. In its amended complaint, the service pointed out that anyone can easily download audio and video from YouTube through a regular web browser.
This fact wasn’t disputed in RIAA’s motion to dismiss. However, the music industry group countered that this download process isn’t straightforward for the average user. So, YouTube’s setup generally prevents the public at large from downloading content off the site.
“[T]he TPM need only serve the ‘function’ of safeguarding access to be effective. Hence, YouTube’s TPMs can effectively safeguard access to copyrighted works even if they do not involve encryption or scrambling,” RIAA wrote, adding that Yout’s attempt to declare the service legal should be dismissed.
Yout Counters RIAA’s Motion to Dismiss
This week, Yout’s legal team responded to RIAA’s dismissal request, denying that it’s in any way violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. It uses the open-source youtube-dl software and doesn’t store any downloads on its servers.
“Yout does not decrypt, bypass, or avoid anything to gain access to Web Content. Indeed, Yout’s software platform operates using a configured version of youtube-dl with ffmpeg which ensures that no content will be stored on its servers,” Yout’s legal team writes.
“Yout simply automates the process, already allowed by YouTube and popular web browsers, that permits a user to access and make downloads of a work from YouTube without the circumvention of any measures.”
Does YouTube Have TPMs?
This is essentially a recap of arguments that were made in previous filings. The essence of the dispute is whether YouTube has any technological protection measures or not. As it turns out, that’s open to interpretation.
The RIAA argues that YouTube does have TPMs and Yout disagrees. According to the RIAA it is clear that YouTube protects uploads from being copied. Yout, for its part, points out that there are no TPMs since anyone can easily copy content with a few clicks.
“The ordinary user can access the works and accomplish exactly what Yout accomplishes,” Yout writes. “In doing so, no TPMs are encountered or circumvented. The RIAA fails to identify what it is referring to as a TPM or TPMs. This is because there are none.”
It’s clear that, no matter how many filings both parties submit, the disagreement will remain. The question the court has to answer is whether this case can proceed on the merits, or if Yout’s claims should be dismissed without further action.
The YouTube ripper hopes that the court will allow the case to move forward. In addition to the above, it lists a variety of other arguments and also alleges that RIAA’s takedown notices defamed the service.
These notices resulted in a loss of paying subscribers, Yout claims, and may also be the reason why PayPal cut the service off.
“By issuing its notices and causing said delisting, the RIAA has caused third parties to believe that Yout engages and continues to engage in illegal and unlawful conduct, even though Yout’s actions are neither illegal nor unlawful.
“Indeed, PayPal has shut down Yout’s account — likely due to the RIAA’s notices — causing Yout further significant monetary and reputational damage,” Yout adds.
It is now up to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to decide if this case can move forward or be thrown out. That decision is expected to follow in the weeks to come.
A copy of Yout’s response to RIAA’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint is available here (pdf)