Court Rejects RIAA Motion for Attorneys’ Fees In Years-Running Legal Battle With Stream-Ripper Yout

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Photo Credit: David Veksler

Earlier this month, the RIAA doubled down on its aggressive push to make stream-ripper Yout cough up $250,000 in attorneys’ fees as part of their long-running courtroom confrontation. Now, the presiding judge has officially rejected the request.

This latest development in the marathon legal battle between Hartford-based Yout and the RIAA came to light in a recent order. For background, Yout initiated the high-profile dispute back in October of 2020. At the time, the RIAA was leaning particularly hard into an effort to decommission stream-ripping platforms, through which users can download the audio (allegedly including protected music) from videos on YouTube and elsewhere.

But in the complaint, the allegedly shortchanged stream-ripper claimed that the defendant had violated the DMCA by sending a trio of false takedown notices, damaging its (Yout’s) financials and reputation in the process. Moreover, much of the showdown to date has centered on whether Yout, in allowing users to download videos’ audio, actually circumvents YouTube’s “rolling cipher” technology as the RIAA is said to have alleged in the highlighted takedown notices.

Yout’s “sound downloads are just an incidental component to the larger picture, which is video content, from any video sharing website, not just YouTube,” the stream-ripper stated in one filing, maintaining also that it “already prevents users from recording and saving a protected work that has any digital mechanism(s) designed as anti-circumvention technology in place.”

In any event, the case was dismissed in 2021 and (this time with prejudice) in September of 2022. On the heels of the latter development, the RIAA moved to receive a cool $250,000 in attorneys’ fees, before reiterating the corresponding calls earlier in January, as initially mentioned.

“Here, I choose to exercise my discretion to deny the fee motion without prejudice and grant the RIAA leave to re-file the motion upon resolution of the appeal,” Judge Stefan R. Underhill wrote in rejecting the push for Yout to foot the RIAA’s legal bills at once. “The Copyright Act provides for recovery of fees and costs incurred by the prevailing party, including fees and costs incurred on appeal.”

“The party prevailing on appeal will likely seek fees at that time; therefore, the interests of judicial efficiency, avoidance of piecemeal adjudication, and conservation of judicial resources favor denying the fee motion without prejudice at this time,” the court proceeded.

Neither the RIAA nor Yout appears to have addressed the order via a formal release. About two weeks back, reports indicated that an RIAA lobbying disclosure form had identified “artificial intelligence” as a “specific lobbying issue.” Meanwhile, the RIAA in 2022 subpoenaed Discord and took down allegedly infringing .eth domain names including “Warnermusicgroup.eth” and “Universalmusic.eth.”