As part of their growing battle against popular open source software tool youtube-dl, three major music labels are now suing Uberspace, the company that currently hosts the official youtube-dl homepage. According to plaintiffs Sony, Universal and Warner, youtube-dl circumvents YouTube's "rolling cipher" technology, something a German court found to be illegal in 2017.
The RIAA cited the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, claiming that the tool could be used to download their artists’ musical works from YouTube, in breach of copyright.
With little supporting case law in the United States, the RIAA referenced a decision from the Hamburg Regional Court in a similar case, which found that YouTube’s “rolling cipher” should be considered an effective technological protection measure under EU law. Any attempt to circumvent it, therefore, would amount to infringement.
While the RIAA’s effort to take down youtube-dl from GitHub grabbed all the headlines, moves had already been underway weeks before that in Germany. Law firm Rasch works with several major music industry players and it was on their behalf that cease-and-desist orders were sent to local hosting service Uberspace.