When Microsoft dropped $7.5 billion in 2017 to buy open source giant GitHub, there were many in the open community who were worried about Microsoft’s intentions. After-all, Microsoft has been an historic opponent of open source. Most of those fears were misplaced as Redmond has embraced the open concept.
However, proponents of open software are angered by a recent decision by Microsoft to remove code for YouTube-DL. If you’re unfamiliar with YouTube-DL, it is a tool for internet video download commands.
While the tool is not illegal, it is problematic. It does not violate copyrights, but it allows users to circumvent those laws. These types of software are illegal under section 1201 of US copyright law.
On paper, then, Microsoft is correct for taking action. However, some fans say the tool is the nature of open source and does not violate any laws. In fact, those YouTube-DL users claim the software is a fair use tool that also helps to download proprietary content or back up videos.
Public Knowledge legal Director John Bergmayeh disagrees and says YouTube-DL is in violation of US laws. He says it is used to “circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube” and to “reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by [RIAA’s] member companies without authorization for such use.”
Microsoft has not responded to the complains and seems to be set on keeping the tool off GitHub.