Hosting provider Uberspace has asked a German court to dismiss the copyright infringement lawsuit Sony, Warner and Universal filed a few weeks ago. The case revolves around the open-source youtube-dl software for which Uberspace hosts the website; not the actual software. According to the hosting company, the overbroad lawsuit threatens the freedom of information.
The major record labels don’t want people to download music from YouTube, which is common practice for millions of people.
To stop this, the music industry titans are using a variety of legal tactics around the world. They obtained site-blocking orders, for example, and fight stream-ripping sites such as 2Conv and Yout.com directly in court.
Youtube-dl Takedown Battle
In late 2020, the open-source software youtube-dl was added to the list of targets. The tool is used by many stream-ripping sites and was freely available on GitHub. The RIAA asked the developer platform to take it offline. According to the music group, youtube-dl violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.
The RIAA initially succeeded as GitHub complied with the takedown request. However, after public outrage and involvement from digital rights groups including the EFF, this decision was eventually reversed. In addition, GitHub put $1 million into a takedown defense fund.
This was a clear setback for the record labels but they didn’t back off. Instead, they set their sights on youtube-dl hosting provider Uberspace.
The RIAA had already sent cease-and-desist orders to the hosting company in 2020, before it approached GitHub. The company didn’t take any action at the time, not least because the software itself is not hosted on the website which only links to it.
Labels Sue Uberspace in Germany
Earlier this year Uberspace informed us that Sony Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music had taken the matter to court in Germany. Their complaint, which cites an earlier case from 2017, alleges that youtube-dl aids copyright infringement by circumventing YouTube’s technical protection measures.
A few days ago Uberspace responded to the lawsuit, asking the Hamburg District Court to dismiss the case on a variety of grounds. The hosting provider is being assisted by the German Society for Civil Rights (GFF), which has the required expertise and contacts to put up a defense.
“With its lawsuit, the music industry is once again putting pressure on a neutral provider of internet infrastructure under the pretext of copyright,” the Society for Civil Rights notes in a recent statement on the legal dispute. …