GitHub have restored the youtube-dl repository

Colour me pleasantly surprised.

I've followed this story since it broke. My own (lay) analysis of the RIAA's claims hit HN a few weeks ago: (

The EFF's letter makes strongly similar arguments, admittedly with better legal citations buttressing.

I'd hinted in that post, and commented at HN, as to steps Microsoft could take to establish its credibility before the Free Software community:


  1. Microsoft is a member of the RIAA. It could and should resign.
  2. Microsoft can lobby for further exceptions to §1201 anti-circumvention.
  3. Microsoft can issue a statement formally protesting RIAA's action.
  4. Microsoft could offer an Amicus brief or other statements in favour of youtube-dl developers.

As an old-school Linux user and advocate, I'm used to considering Microsoft the opposition, and my praise is grudging, but given where due. By my reckoning, Microsoft are at least 3 for 4 in meeting my suggestions.

Of the fourth, I suspect its upcoming RIAA renewal discussion will be interesting.

Google, on the other hand, have been conspicuously silent. Chris DiBona, are you listening?

@dredmorbius what does Microsoft gain by being a member of the RIAA?

@waterbear @dredmorbius reassures the suits and major shareholders whose side they're *really* on.

@waterbear You'd have to ask Microsoft.

At this point I would hope they are asking themselves.

@dredmorbius It would be interesting to see Microsoft sell DRM-free entertainment. If for no other reason than we're all used to seeing them as an anti-competitive force, and this action would be more pro-competitive.

They could certainly pull it off now if they wanted to, I'm just not convinced they do. I'm not holding my breath!

@alcinnz @dredmorbius They'll want to pull it off, if and only if it benefits their bottom line. You can also get they'll monetize the hell out of it. GitHub is already starting to resemble LinkedIn as Microsoft turns it into an advertising and paid services (mostly job search) platform.

@dredmorbius my opinion on what happened:

1. Github takes down loved repository due to "external pressure" and "things out of their control."
2. Rage flows throughout hacker community, signalling "down with Microsoft and Github" and fueling Streisand effect throughout the Internet.
3. Github notices how associating itself with Microsoft et al is harmful for their PR.
4. Github poses itself as the "hero" of "the community" by fearlessly recovering the Repo to recover image with hacker community

@dredmorbius make no mistake, in the end the true winner of this story is #Github itself, who "outsourced" the blame to "corporate cronies" and tried to come out as the friend of free software developers.

Just look at their wording. They ain't fooling me, though.

@kzimmermann Entirely possible.

Counter: GitHub was a $7 billion plus purchase, and Microsoft + Github are putting money ($1m for now, could quite credibly go far higher) where their mouth is.

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