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| 2 minutes read

Has video killed the radio star? YouTube shuts down popular Discord music bot, Groovy

For as long as I've been aware, users of the popular communications app, Discord, have been able to invite third party bots into their "servers". If you aren't aware of Discord, it's a really great communication platform (see how it works here) where users can set up servers and invite their friends to chat and hang out.  

Bots are programmed by third party companies or users, often utilising APIs, and are invited into servers to automate various tasks. For example, some allow a user to enter commands in a text channel to find out specific information drawn from external sources (typing "!playtime" might tell you how much time you've spent playing a given game), others can automatically draw news updates into text channels (like an RSS feed). Mostly the bots are used simply to enhance the utility and functionality of Discord servers.

One bot concept that might be seeing the end of its days though are the music bots. Once implemented into a server, a user invites a music bot into a specific voice channel and enters a simple command with a link to a song, which causes the bot to play music in the background of that voice channel. That music could be drawn from various sources: sometimes Soundcloud, sometimes Spotify, sometimes... YouTube. 

Google has seemingly become aware of this activity because it has served a cease and desist letter on the Groovy music bot for violation of YouTube's Terms of Service, "including modifying the service and using it for commercial purposes". Groovy primarily used YouTube to stream its audio, had a premium paid-for subscription service, and had reportedly been invited to over 16 million servers. Problematically, the bot didn't require users to play or listen to the adverts that are usually required when watching videos or music on YouTube.   

Groovy's creator, Nik Ammerlaan, has immediately agreed to shut the bot down, stating that he had anticipated this would happen at some stage. Groovy isn't the only music bot that has been created for use in Discord though, and it will be interesting to see if this is a wider crackdown by Google such that the others are soon shut down too.

The Verge spoke to a Discord spokesperson who stated that they "take the rights of others seriously and require developers who create bots for Discord to do the same... If a bot running on Discord violates someone else’s rights, that third party or Discord may take action.” 

Google confirmed to The Verge that it took action in this case: “We notified Groovy about violations of our Terms of Service, including modifying the service and using it for commercial purposes,” a YouTube spokesperson writes, adding that its APIs are for developers who comply with its terms of service.


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