May 20, 2024 2 min read

Y2Mate returns to court in ongoing legal battle over Rickrolling takedown notices

Stream ripper Y2Mate last year went legal after a rival issued an illegitimate takedown notice against its site in relation to Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. However, it doesn’t know which rival is behind the Rickrolling takedown. A court order last week might help in its ongoing search

Y2Mate returns to court in ongoing legal battle over Rickrolling takedown notices

The operator of stream ripping platforms Y2Mate and YTMP3 returned to court last week in its ongoing bid to identify which stream-ripping rival has been filing copyright takedown notices against its websites in a bid to hit its search ranking.

It requested and got subpoenas against Google, Namecheap and Cloudflare, all of which, it says, might have information that will help with its ongoing search. 

The court previously ordered Google to provide more information about the suspect copyright takedown notices it had received against Y2Mate and YTMP3. The notices accused the stream rippers of copyright infringement, but didn't seem to come from actual copyright owners. 

“After significant delays from Google”, Y2Mate said in a legal filing last week, “Google eventually produced very limited documentation about the senders of the notices, which contained what are suspected to be false email addresses for the senders”. 

However, all those probably false emails were Gmail accounts, which is why Y2Mate reckons Google might have more information about the people behind the emails. It has also linked the various Gmail addresses to a bunch of domains which utilise the services of domain registrar Namecheap and internet services company Cloudflare. This is why Y2Mate thinks they too might be able to help it identify the rogue takedown notice issuer. 

Usually it is record companies who are seeking to block or downgrade stream-ripping sites, which allow people to grab permanent downloads of temporary streams. The music industry argues that stream-ripping services violate copyright law. In countries like the UK, labels have sought web-blocking orders against such services. 

Meanwhile, in the US, they might file copyright takedown notices to Google, seeking to get specific links removed from the search engine’s database. Under US law, search engines need to remove links to infringing content if made aware of them. They will also often downgrade sites that are subject to a large number of takedowns. 

Y2Mate is used to being targeted by the music industry, but last year spotted takedown notices that seemed to come from an entity which didn't own any copyrights. 

First, that entity filed a takedown against Y2Mate in relation to Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which suggested some sophisticated Rickrolling was going on. When Y2Mate sent a cease and desist letter to an email address linked to the takedowns, two days later a new copyright notice was filed linked to Cee Lo Green’s ‘Fuck You’. 

More recently, last week's legal filing revealed, Y2Mate was “contacted by an individual making threats against the company that they would ‘spam negative links to your domains!!’ unless the individual’s demands were met”. Y2Mate said it “has reason to believe that this individual has been behind the actions forming the basis of this complaint”. 

Issuing takedowns in relation to content in which you have no rights is in itself a violation of copyright law and on that basis Y2Mate launched legal proceedings against the rogue takedown issuer last year. However, to sue that entity, it obviously needs to know what that entity is. 

The court granted subpoenas ordering Google, Namecheap and Cloudflare to provide Y2Mate with any useful information they have in relation to the email accounts and domains that have been identified, including IP addresses, names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers. However, any payment information, including bank account details, need not be shared.

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