The Major Label Legal Battle Against Stream-Ripper Yout Focuses on YouTube’s “Rolling Cipher”

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In late October, Digital Music News was first to report that Hartford-based stream-ripping platform Yout had filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America. Now, the RIAA has moved to dismiss the complaint, which stemmed from a trio of DMCA takedown notices concerning alleged violations of YouTube’s “rolling cipher” technology.

Yout submitted the high-profile suit to a Connecticut federal court about two weeks after stream-ripping giant officially petitioned the Supreme Court in its own legal showdown with the RIAA.

To summarize the courtroom confrontation between Yout and the RIAA, the latter entity sent Google three DMCA takedown requests (two in October of 2019 and one in June of 2020) “with the purpose of causing Google to delist Yout’s software platform, rendering it undiscoverable for many Internet users to record content stored on YouTube,” according to the original filing.

In each of these requests, the RIAA maintained that “to our knowledge,” Yout provides access to a service or a technology that “circumvents YouTube’s rolling cipher” asset. Yout, however, emphasized that it “is not designed to descramble, decrypt, avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair the YouTube rolling cypher technology.” Furthermore, the stream-ripping platform indicated: “Any digital mechanism in place designed as anti-circumvention technology stops Yout users from recording and saving that protected work.”

Consequently, Yout stated that the RIAA had “acted with intent and actual malice” and caused “third parties to believe Yout engaged and continues to engage in illegal and unlawful conduct.”

But as mentioned, the RIAA has officially taken aim at Yout’s claims and moved to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. DMN obtained exclusive copies of the corresponding filings, including the actual motion to dismiss as well as a 23-page-long memorandum of law in support of this motion.

Cutting right to the chase in the firmly worded memorandum, the RIAA relays that Yout’s “service is a haven for copyright infringement,” besides claiming that the plaintiff “reaps ill-gotten profits by facilitating the unlawful reproduction of the record companies’ copyrighted sound recordings without obtaining licenses or paying the record companies.”

Then, segueing to a point-by-point refutation of Yout’s allegations, the RIAA states that “a technological measure’s effectiveness is judged from the perspective of an ordinary consumer” – meaning, in brief, that because the rolling cipher largely prevents regular YouTube users from downloading videos, Yout is in fact designed to circumvent the underlying technology.

“Plaintiff’s claim that it does not avoid or bypass the rolling cipher is not plausible on its face,” the RIAA continues. “Indeed, the only plausible conclusion from the few facts alleged is that the Yout service does circumvent.”

In terms of allegations that the RIAA violated Section 512(f) of the DMCA by issuing allegedly false takedown notices against Yout, the defendants make clear that the section “creates a cause of action expressly limited to alleged misrepresentations regarding copyright infringement.” Additionally, even if the section also covered circumvention, the RIAA did not submit the DMCA takedown requests to Google “with actual knowledge of their falsity,” per the legal document.

Towards October’s end, the RIAA started seeking information about the owners of 40 different YouTube ripper sites – though the overarching effort to take down stream-ripping platforms hasn’t come without decidedly public pushback.

2 Responses

  1. Roberto

    I was about to spend $35,000 on adding an orchestra to my new album but glad I didn’t! And those Backing vocalists I have booked in next week will probably cost me $2400 and maybe I should cancel them as well?? And what about that Horn section I was going to record this Sunday – should I tell them not to come to my studio?