YouTube Sends Cease-And-Desist Letter To Microsoft Over Windows Phone App

Well, that was fast: Just about a week ago, Microsoft released a YouTube app for its Windows Phone 8 platform. And today, YouTube is telling Microsoft remove it, saying that the app violates its terms of service.

YouTube Director of Global Platform Partnerships Francisco Varela sent a cease-and-desist letter today to Todd Brix, GM of Windows Phone Apps, demanding that the his company take down the Microsoft-authored app. The letter claims that the application allows users to download videos from YouTube, while also stripping ads from the videos that it displays. It also shows videos that have been restricted from playback on certain platforms — like when a major media company doesn’t give YouTube the right to display videos on mobile phones or tablets.

All of those actions violate YouTube’s Terms of Service and API Terms of Service, which has led it to ask Microsoft to disable existing downloads. The app is also confusing to users because it uses YouTube branding and trademarks despite being created by a third party, the company claims. Due to all of this, YouTube says it’s giving Microsoft a week, until Wednesday, May 22, to withdraw the application.

YouTube says more than a million channels earn revenue through its partner program, including thousands which make more than six figures a year. The letter argues that Microsoft’s app strips them of the ability to monetize on the Windows Phone 8 app. It also violates their ability to decide where and how their content is displayed on which devices.

For its part, Microsoft made the unprecedented decision to author an app on its own after YouTube refused to devote any of its resources to supporting Windows Phone devices with an approved native app. But YouTube points to its own HTML5 standard web experience as an alternative for users with devices running the Microsoft mobile operating system.