Earlier this month, the RIAA urged an appellate court to affirm the dismissal of a complaint levied against it by stream-ripper Yout. Now, Yout has formally submitted its reply brief, maintaining that the complex issues at hand “can only be resolved by a factfinder after the parties have had the opportunity to conduct full discovery.”
Hartford-based Yout and its legal team just recently took aim at the RIAA’s 60-page answering brief, which we covered in detail. To recap, the courtroom confrontation initiated way back in October of 2020, when Yout sued the RIAA as the industry representative was working overtime to decommission stream-rippers, or platforms through which users can “rip” and then save videos’ audio.
In brief, Yout alleged in its complaint – which was dismissed with prejudice in September of 2022 – that the RIAA had violated the DMCA and defamed it (Yout) by submitting to Google false takedown requests. Specifically, these allegedly false takedown notices are said to have contained misrepresentations about whether Yout does in fact “circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work” (YouTube’s “rolling cipher”) and, in the process, violate Section 1201 of the DMCA.
“To establish its entitlement to declaratory relief under Section 1201, Yout would have to prove that it does not violate any of the prohibitions of that statute,” the RIAA’s counsel wrote towards May’s start. “The reality is that it violates all of the prohibitions.”
Predictably, Yout has refuted the latter idea, claiming instead that it isn’t a circumvention tool but enables users to expedite a straightforward process that they’d otherwise be able to perform via a web browser.
Expanding upon this position and taking aim at the RIAA’s arguments (“which rely heavily on unsupported assertions dressed up as facts”) in the initially mentioned reply, Yout has expressed the belief that the cases cited by the trade organization had mainly “been decided at a much later stage of the proceedings.”
“As discussed in Yout’s opening brief (and is evident even in reading the RIAA’s answering brief), the issues at play in this case are complex, involve highly technical questions that are either entirely factual or are mixed questions of fact and law,” the stream-ripper wrote. “Ultimately, this is simply not a case that can or should be decided on a motion to dismiss.”
Yout also called out “an elephant-sized hole in the room” in YouTube’s failure to file an amicus brief on the RIAA’s behalf. “The RIAA attempts to cover this enormous hole with fig leaves, astonishingly arguing that the purpose of the technology employed by YouTube is irrelevant and should simply be ignored,” the plaintiff-appellant drove home.
To be sure, Yout further indicated that the RIAA had conceded “neither it nor its members have themselves put in place any kind of ‘technological measure’ that would have to be circumvented in order to access or copy the relevant works” – with said measure being “required for there to be a violation of either” of Section 1201’s relevant parts.
Closer to the brief’s end, Yout made clear its position that the RIAA’s much-cited Universal City Studios v. Corley case “in addition to being easily distinguishable [from the current action], was decided only after a full bench trial in which the Court heard from and weighed the testimony of the parties’ witnesses, competing expert witnesses, and documentary evidence.”
“Indeed, Corley is so factually dissimilar from the present case that it could serve as an issue spotting exam for law students learning to distinguish cases,” Yout elaborated before citing Digital Music News when emphasizing the small portion of overall YouTube traffic attributable to music.
“The service provided by Yout is content-neutral, providing nothing more than a recording device that utilizes the very information that is freely and publicly available to anyone who cares to look for it, without the need to circumvent any technological measures,” the platform communicated in conclusion.
More as this develops.