A federal judge ruled Friday that Yout – a website that allows users to download music from YouTube – violates copyright law by helping people evade the platform’s digital restrictions.
Siding with arguments from the Recording Industry Association of America, Judge Stefan R. Underhill said the site ran afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital encryption technology.
“Yout’s technology clearly ‘bypasses’ YouTube’s technological measures because it affirmatively acts to ‘modify’ the Request URL (a.k.a. signature value), causing an end user to access content that is otherwise unavailable,” the judge wrote in his long, technically-complex decision.
Yout filed the lawsuit itself, seeking a so-called declaratory ruling that it didn’t violate the DMCA – and also accusing RIAA of wrongfully demanding that Google delist the site from search results over those alleged violations.
But Judge Underhill rejected Yout’s various arguments for why its technology was legal. He said the site “encourages its users to download copyrighted audio,” and that it does not matter if those users are doing so for what they believed to be lawful purposes.
“Yout attempts to distinguish itself by describing lawful uses of its platform, but downstream users’ lawful or fair use of a platform does not relieve that platform from liability for trafficking in a circumventing technology,” Judge Underhill wrote.
Yout also accused RIAA of defamation and of abusing the DMCA process. But after the judge rejected the company’s core arguments about the DMCA’s rules, he also rejected those other counts as a result.
In a statement to Billboard, an attorney for Yout said the company “expected this result” at the trial court and knew the case would always require a trip to an appeals court: “We believe the district court’s ruling erroneous and flawed on a number of grounds, and we look forward to arguing our position on appeal,” said Charles Lee Mudd Jr.
In its own statement, the RIAA praised the ruling: “We are gratified by the court’s decision, which confirms that stream ripping of music videos is a plain violation of the Copyright Act’s prohibition on circumvention of technological measures,” said the group’s chief legal officer Ken Doroshow.
Read the full decision here: