Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has been hit with a cease and desist order by lawyers acting on behalf on YouTube.

His ‘crime’ was to post an article advising readers how to download videos from YouTube to an iPod, or a computer’s hard drive. Arrington had checked YouTube’s terms of use before posting this, and found nothing in there to prevent this.

Or so they thought…

The letter recieved from YouTube states:

“TechCrunch is causing significant damage to YouTube’s business. Due to TechCrunch’s video download tool, content creators and owners are less likely to upload or otherwise licence content to YouTube due to their fear that the content can and will be copied and downloaded against their will”

So, YouTube, the site where you can just about every episode of South Park ever made for free, is concerned about content being copied and downloaded.

Arrington intends to abide by the order:

“I have no intention of fighting YouTube on this. If they want it down, I’ll take it down. I don’t want to be put on a blacklist with Google PR.”

Though you have to appreciate the irony of YouTube suing anyone for copyright violation, perhaps there is a reason for its actions.

The video sharing leviathan has been busy making deals with content owners to avoid copyright lawsuits, maybe the terms of such deals allow content to be shown on the site, but not to be downloaded.