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Yout files appeal in legal dispute with the American labels

By | Published on Monday 6 February 2023


Stream-ripping site Yout has filed an appeal in its ongoing legal battle with the American record industry over whether or not its service violates US copyright law.

That dispute, Yout argues, raises “novel questions”, which is why its lawsuit should not have been dismissed by the lower court and why judges in the Second Circuit appeals court should now review the case.

Websites that allow people to download permanent copies of temporary streams – most often streams on YouTube – have been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for some time now, of course. Which is why the Recording Industry Association Of America tried to get Yout de-listed by the Google search engine.

That prompted Yout to sue the RIAA, arguing that its service was entirely legal. It doesn’t actually get involved in any direct copying. And – while US copyright law does prohibit the circumvention of technical protection measures that exist to stop people making copies of content without licence – YouTube doesn’t have any such technical protection measures to circumvent, according to Yout.

It summarises that latter argument in its new filing with the Second Circuit. “Neither YouTube nor the [record companies] employ any form of digital rights management or encryption, the inclusion of which would eliminate the ability of the Yout software to allow Yout’s users to make copies of the works”.

“Indeed”, it goes on, “not only is there a lack of protection against such copying, the process can be accomplished by anyone with a web browser without the need for Yout’s services (which simply automate the manual process anyone could use to download videos)”.

In the lower court, the music companies argued that – while in theory people can download permanent downloads of YouTube streams through a web browser – doing so is a complex and laborious process. And those complexities are deliberate.

So much so, the technical hurdles to be crossed when stream-ripping without a service like Yout are in themselves a technical protection measure. And Yout is illegally circumventing said technical protection measure.

However, Yout argues that – while the lower court judge accepted that argument from the RIAA – both the labels and the judge were making big assumptions without proper scrutiny. The case, Yout reckons, involves “first time novel questions” and a “preponderance of disputed issue of fact”.

And, with that in mind, there is a “clear need for discovery and expert testimony”, which means the lower court acted “improperly” when it granted the RIAA’s motion to dismiss, in doing so “erroneously concluding that Yout’s software platform was a circumvention tool” as defined in US law.

With that in mind, Yout states, the appeals court “should reverse the district court’s judgment dismissing Yout’s complaint and remand for further proceedings consistent with such reversal”.

We await to see how the Second Circuit responds.