The offense we committed was creating a small tool that lets people download YouTube videos to their hard drives. We referenced the tool in a recent post that walked people through the process of moving YouTube Videos to their iPod.
Cease and Desist letters are often sent with no intention of follow up legal action, even if they are ignored. They are simply a way to show that you have made a good faith effort to protect your legal rights. But in this case I’m perplexed – YouTube takes the position that everything uploaded to the site is licensed for use by viewers, and so there should be no legal rights to protect:
You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.
Of course, the irony of YouTube accusing others of copyright infringement is delicious. But I won’t go into that right now.
A copy of the letter is below. I had not listened to the voicemails mentioned in the letter, but I went and checked the last 20 messages and there were indeed two from this attorney.
Update: YouTube’s General Counsel sent us an email today. I’ve copied it below with their permission:
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to email me.
General Counsel & VP Business Affairs