Importing from YouTube

We had implemented a working (only needed some UI polish) Youtube importer for PiTiVi:

…but Youtube asked us to “bring [our] application into compliance with the ToS“, which roughly translates to “take it down”, because their API Terms of Service clearly forbids any kind of downloading.

This situation, of course, annoys me deeply on a philosophical level. In that comment, I argued in favor of a fair use-friendly resolution, and think I offered reasonable choices for potential solutions.

To this, I add the following argument: Youtube would probably benefit, on an economic standpoint, from letting us make a video importer. I argue that those who use a video editor’s built-in Youtube importer feature are more likely to be using that feature in order to make mashups (cultural remixes) and post them right back onto Youtube, generating more revenue.

But it seems it has come to this (the last solution): convince Youtube to change their Terms of Service. In my humble opinion, the enforcement of draconian “culture-unfriendly” terms like these onto our open source project seems pretty much in contradiction with the “do no evil” mantra.

We don’t have much choices here. If you want to be able to import from Youtube into PiTiVi, then you need to let your voice be heard in the Youtube API forums so that there is known demand for a saner, user-centric API ToS. As Mr. Wilkiewicz suggested,

[…] share your experience with the YouTube developer community at :
http://code.google.com/apis/youtube/forum/

14 thoughts on “Importing from YouTube

  1. > In my humble opinion, the enforcement of draconian “culture-unfriendly” terms like these onto our open source project seems pretty much in contradiction with the “do no evil” mantra.

    I do understand your frustration but one thing I would take into account is that Google itself might as well be under the enforcement of the labels/content providers/whatever to have such ToS. That’s just guessing, though.

  2. Hmm, but then couldn’t any content flagged as belonging to one of those commercial labels be restricted, and other generic content have a fair use clause in the ToS?


  3. nekohayo:

    Hmm, but then couldn’t any content flagged as belonging to one of those commercial labels be restricted, and other generic content have a fair use clause in the ToS?

    Fair use applies to all content, not just those of non-commercial labels.

    On the other hand…

    To this, I add the following argument: Youtube would probably benefit, on an economic standpoint, from letting us make a video importer. I argue that those who use a video editor’s built-in Youtube importer feature are more likely to be using that feature in order to make mashups (cultural remixes) and post them right back onto Youtube, generating more revenue.

    Just because Youtube will benefit economically does not make the creation of mashups non-infringement. The creation of mashups does certainly infringe upon the creator’s sole right to prepare derivative works. Unless it is a parody, or somehow fulfills the fair use criteria (not likely), it will be illegal. And because of the strict rules that make Youtube/Google safe from liability, they are covering themselves by preventing the creation of derivative works.

    Of course, all this is dependent on the license the user gives. Which is usually none. In short, if you want others to respect your license, the license of your code, you have to respect theirs.

  4. I don’t think this is about copyright, fair use or preventing mashups. I think that the purpose of this clause in the ToS is to make you watch the videos on the website (or at least in their player) where they can display ads. If you download the video, it costs them money but you don’t see any ads.

    I think totem already allows playing youtube videos (which would be against the ToS I think). Maybe you can get in touch with them about this.

  5. We’ve just received a similar such e-mail about Totem’s YouTube plugin. Bastien Nocera has already responded to it, so you might want to get in touch with him about it.

  6. is there a more openculture friendly video sites? could the opensource community build one? all content could be tagged with CC licences and pitivi could be made to respect those. maybe you could team up with the Miro people.

  7. I think this is an excellent feature and I agree that if the only reason YouTube refuses to allow a feature like this is because of their commercial partners, then can they not flag the commercial videos and leave the rest of the user-generated content to be mashable?

  8. Hi ! I found the way to do the same with archive.org. I hope it can be ready for the next release. I can’t swear that there is a way to do it with blip.tv but I guess it must be possible.


  9. Stefan Kost:

    WHat about using grilo for video import and making use of the you-tube plugin there?

    Wouldn’t Grilo be subject to the same kind of “attack”? Or wouldn’t we still be subject to legal entanglement no matter which tool/lib we use to search and download from Youtube?

  10. In Linux one can set the Youtube clip running, go watch or do something else and when the clip has finished running there it is in your tmp folder waiting to be saved. No adverts watched…..no problems…….simplz….do with it what you will after that…

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