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Last year, YouTube-ripping service Yout.com sued the RIAA, hoping to have its platform declared legal after the music industry group allegedly damaged its goodwill and disrupted its business by sending DMCA notices to Google. The case has now been dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Yout is now free to file an amended complaint with additional facts.
Follow the RIAA’s attempt to have youtube-dl removed from Github, ripping service Yout carried out a preemptive legal strike against the record label group.
Filed in a Connecticut court, Yout argued that previous actions by the RIAA to have its homepage delisted from Google, on the basis that it circumvented YouTube’s ‘rolling cipher’ technology, were wrongful and damaged its business.
“Contrary to Defendants’ allegations, Yout’s software platform is not designed to descramble, decrypt, avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair the YouTube rolling cipher technology,” Yout’s complaint read.
RIAA’s Motion to Dismiss, Yout’s Response
A month after Yout filed its first amended complaint in December 2020, the RIAA filed a motion to dismiss, noting that according to copyright law the threshold definition for a Technological Protection Measure (the rolling cipher in this case) is low, meaning that just because a measure can be bypassed, it does not follow that the measure can’t be considered “effective”.
According to the RIAA, this is due to section 1201 of the DMCA considering whether an “ordinary” or “average” consumer can bypass protection measures, not someone with the necessary technical skills. The RIAA also argued that since the Yout service turns streams into MP3 downloads after obtaining a “signature value” from YouTube, that is the very definition of circumventing a TPM.
Yout responded to the RIAA’s motion in February, arguing that since it does not decrypt, bypass or avoid any measures on YouTube, claims of circumvention are incorrect. Yout argued that terms used by the RIAA (including “avoid” and “bypass”) suggest that the service abused YouTube’s technical measures when in fact its methodology should be described simply as “use” of a TPM.
RIAA Asks Court to Dismiss Yout’s Complaint
In March the RIAA fought back again, rejecting Yout’s claims that its “use” of YouTube’s rolling cipher protection is entirely legal. The RIAA also noted that the DMCA notices it sent to Google alleging circumvention offenses did not have to include references to specific copyright works, as Yout had claimed.
The RIAA asked the court to rule on its motion to dismiss Yout’s first amended complaint as a matter of law, without allowing Yout to further amend its complaint. It asked the court to do so with prejudice, so that Yout would not be able to return with a “futile” amendment that would “only further support RIAA’s legal arguments.”
Late last week the court dismissed Yout’s case as the RIAA requested but did so without prejudice, meaning that the matter isn’t over just yet.
Court Gives Both Sides Room To Expand and Clarify
TorrentFreak has spoken with people familiar with the complaint and the consensus is that the lawsuit developed into something much more complex than Yout’s complaint initially encompassed, something recognized by the judge.
Mitch Stoltz, Senior Staff Attorney at EFF, was present in court for the dismissal and he believes the hearing was good for Yout.
“The judge was highly engaged and appeared to be taking the time to understand the issue. A motion to dismiss is supposed to focus on the formal complaint (here, yout.com’s) without bringing in additional facts,” he informs TF.
“Ultimately, because both yout.com and RIAA brought up additional facts in their arguments about how YouTube works, the judge asked yout.com to revise its complaint to add more detail. After that, there will likely be more briefing from both sides and another hearing.”
Yout’s amended complaint must be filed within 28 days of the August 5 hearing.
RIAA’s motion to dismiss/memo can be found here (1,2), order can be found here (pdf)
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.