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GitHub Reinstates youtube-dl, Commits to New Policies for Protecting Developers

Last month, GitHub removed the code repository of the popular media tool youtube-dl following a DMCA takedown request by the Recording Industry Association of America. This move was met with widespread criticism, including the EFF stepping into the fray.

Today GitHub has responded decisively by reinstating youtube-dl, revising its DMCA takedown policies, and establishing a $1M developer defense fund. The new policies seem designed to extend more of the benefit of the doubt to developers, and will hopefully put an end to repositories being taken down by frivolous claims before any investigation has occurred. Make sure to check out GitHub’s post (which explains all of this quite well) to see exactly what policies they’re adjusting. As for the developer defense fund, GitHub has this to say:

Developers who are personally affected by a takedown notice or other legal claim rely on non-profits like the Software Freedom Law center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to provide them with legal advice and support in the event that they face an IP claim, under the DMCA or otherwise. These organizations provide critical legal support to developers who would otherwise be on their own, facing off against giant corporations or consortia.

Nonetheless, developers who want to push back against unwarranted takedowns may face the risk of taking on personal liability and legal defense costs. To help them, GitHub will establish and donate $1M to a developer defense fund to help protect open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims. We will immediately begin working with other members of the community to set up this fund and take other measures to collectively protect developers and safeguard developer collaboration.

If you want to support developers facing legal challenges, you can consider supporting SFLC and EFF yourself as well.

I’m pleased to see GitHub take these sweeping actions in response to this issue. Hopefully developers can now feel more at-ease when hosting their code on the industry’s largest version-control platform.