Google-owned YouTube is starting to crack down on Discord music bots. The search giant has sent a cease and desist to the owners of the popular Groovy Bot, which lets Discord users play music from YouTube videos and is installed on more than 16 million Discord servers. Google wants the service gone within seven days, and Groovy is complying by shutting down its bot on August 30th.
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.
“Groovy has been a huge part of my life over the past five years. It started because my friend’s bot sucked and I thought I could make a better one,” says Nik Ammerlaan, Groovy Bot owner, in a message announcing the closure. The Groovy Bot sources music from YouTube and allows Discord users to play and share it in servers where the bot is installed.
Groovy Bot allows for a social listening party on Discord, largely using the audio from YouTube videos. It has become hugely popular over the past five years, with some estimates suggesting it has more than 250 million users. It has now caught the attention of Google and YouTube.
“I’m not sure why they decided to send it [a cease and desist] now,” says Ammerlaan in an interview with The Verge. “They probably just didn’t know about it, to be honest.” Ammerlaan admits Groovy Bot has been a “huge weight” on his shoulders over the past five years, and that Google’s actions were always something he saw coming. “It was just a matter of seeing when it would happen,” says Ammerlaan.
While Groovy Bot supports Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, and other services, “something like 98 percent of the tracks played on Groovy were from YouTube,” admits Ammerlaan. Google’s move to force Groovy Bot offline could mean we’ll now see similar action against other Discord bot owners.
Rythm, the most popular Discord music bot, is still standing strong... for now. “We don’t currently plan to shut down,” a Rythm bot co-owner, Jet, wrote in a message to its community of users. Rythm is installed on nearly 20 million Discord servers and says it has more than 560 million users as a result.
We tried to reach out to one of the owners of Rythm, but after initially responding the owner didn’t respond to requests about whether Google had issued a cease and desist. If Google isn’t happy with Groovy Bot, then it’s hard to imagine it’s going to let Rythm continue, too.
Groovy Bot shutting down comes just weeks after several YouTube video downloading sites have disappeared randomly. The removal of this bot also leaves a giant hole in Discord’s bot offerings. “We take the rights of others seriously and require developers who create bots for Discord to do the same,” says a Discord spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “If a bot running on Discord violates someone else’s rights, that third party or Discord may take action.”
Update, 7:32 PM ET: Added Google’s confirmation and statement that it told Groovy that it violates YouTube’s terms of service.