A German court ruled that hosting website Uberspace is liable for hosting the youtube-dl website. Youtube-dl is an open source tool that allows users to download YouTube videos.
In 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent a takedown notice to GitHub to remove youtube-dl, alleging the YouTube-ripping tool violated YouTube’s technological protections. Initially, GitHub complied but changed its decision after consulting with legal experts.
The music industry did not give up. It went after youtube-dl’s hosting provider Uberspace, which is based in Germany. The district court of Hamburg ruled in favor of the music industry.
The court ruled that youtube-dl bypasses YouTube’s technological protections and that Uberspace could be held responsible for youtube-dl’s activities, TorrentFreak reported.
Uberspace had received a takedown notice before but did not comply because it was not clear that the YouTube ripper was clearly illegal. But the court said the hosting provider should have known better.
Uberspace owner Jonas Pasche said the decision was a big mistake and would result in private censorship.
Under German law, hosting providers are required to remove content as soon as they are aware of “obvious” or “clear” illegal activity. According to Pasche, it was not immediately clear that youtube-dl was engaged in illegal activity. But per the court ruling, a company can be held liable for doubting the validity of a takedown request.
“Just because someone ‘claims’ that something hosted with us is illegal, it doesn’t necessarily need to be true. So when we received the notice from the Rasch law firm that we’re hosting youtube-dl which they claimed to be illegal, our first reaction was: Really? Is it..? Let’s do some research,” Pasche told Torrent Freak.
“And boy, did we do some research. Starting with a simple Google search for ‘youtube download legal’, there is a TON of sources – well-known, serious, public magazines – basically all stating: Yeah, it’s totally legal to download videos from YouTube.”