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Monday, September 27, 2010

Is it illegal to download YouTube video?

YouTube becomes the biggest video database in the world nowdays. There are substantial of videos on YouTube. YouTube now exceeds 2 billion views a day and 24 hours of video uploaded every minute. I'm sure a lot of you guys want to download some YouTube videos. Now the problem comes: Is it legal or not to download YouTube video? Is it legal to upload videos to YouTube?

There are different viewpoints toward these problems. Of course, YouTube thinks that it's illegal to download video from itself. Here is YouTube's answer to the question in terms of their
Terms of Service -
You shall not download any Content unless you see a "download" or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licencors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content.

However, this answer is very impracticable and ambiguous. For example, They do not imply it's illegal to download using third-party software like
Leawo Free YouTube Downloader, only that the site provides no method to download videos. Second example, if I download YouTube videos just for watching them off line on my own computer or iPod, and not caught with illegal videos by the copyright owner or YouTube, then I can still download video from YouTube.

If copyrighted video was uploaded illegally, then it would be certainly illegal to download it. If you are caught with illegal videos, the penalties will cost much more than if you had just bought the item in the first place.

If you mean to distribute, broadcast, or even sell the copyrighted YouTube video to others without permission from video owner and YouTube, then it's surely illegal. For example, you can't share it with others or post it on your blog or Facebook page without permission, or you'll be banned by YouTube from their services for breaking the EULA terms. Or worst of all you could end up facing criminal copyright infringement charges that have substantial fines and possible jail time (at least in the United States). Depending on who your ISP is there could be issues there as well with their terms, you could get expelled from school or college if using their networks as a student, or get fired from work if using an employer's internet for copyright infringement.

The last thing I want to say is that a lot of people have downloaded videos from YouTube to watch them off line on their compuers or protable electronic devices, and they never get caught. Just remember that you won't reuse, distribute or sell the downloaded YouTube videos, you'll never get caught.


  1. 'You shall not download any Content unless you see a "download" or similar link
    displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content.'

    There is nothing ambiguous about this statement. This stuff gets written by lawyers but it is also plain and simple. It does [sic "does"] imply that it's illegal [sic "illegal"] to download from YouTube using third-party software or any other method (other than via
    a YouTube link) - whatsoever!

    Whether it is "impracticable" or not is beside the point from the legal point of view.

  2. I'm familiar with this type of litigation, being a working musician, but also seeing an article on line about somebody getting in trouble over posting a Youtube link of copyrighted music.
    It seems ludicrous to me that B.M.I. or the Musicians Union, or whoever would make an issue out of this.
    Because when you post the link, they obviously have to go to YouTube to hear and see the video. It's got YouTube wrapped all around it. And then they'll also see a sidebar of many other related YouTube videos and YouTube gains viewers.
    It isn't like someone is likely to steal the recording away from the YouTube framework. No.

  3. helped a tun!


  4. So.... Sometimes the Internet connection at my school is weak, and at church, the wireless connection doesn't reach downstairs from the main office. If I want to download a youtube video from the office a few hundred feet away to show it to my Spanish class, or at youth group at church in a different room, is that illegal?

  5. @pressmyopia: Just because YouTube says it is illegal, it is illegal. I could say it is illegal to take a picture of me when I am in public, but unless they use my image for certain things it is not. Furthermore, most of the stuff on YouTube does not come from YouTube, but from everyday people, and most videos are uploaded by people that downloaded them from a torrent (most if not all of which are very illegal), so it is very much the pot calling the kettle black.

  6. Is it illegal to download a Youtube video using Real player?

  7. So its illegal to press share on any youtube page

  8. Josh Wood?

    Learn to read... please!

  9. this confuses me a lot here...why in the world would it be illegal to download something that already puts itself on your computer? Youtube videos, once loaded, are stored in cache, within your computer's temporary files. This is why when you have the video paused and fully loaded, you can disconnect, leave the computer there all day, and watch it over and over as much as you like...it's not like a live stream running through your computer. You can find the cached files and convert them from .flv to .mp3 or whatever you'd like. But the fact here is...it's already on your computer...

    Does anyone here that's an avid YouTube user go to clean out their computer and see over 200mb in their temp files that they delete? Yeah, most of that is either streamed music or videos from the web...unless you honestly think that those 200mb consist of html, xml, css and other files that are around 100kb each...

    So...it's already on our computers. Why is it illegal to retrieve them through other methods again if we already have the raw content itself?

    1. That's what I'm wondering as well! If the content, like the music, videos etc. are already there for us for FREE then why are we not allowed to just make it more convenient for us to watch/listen to by downloading?? It's not like vevo or YouTube is making us pay for this stuff like iTunes?

    2. Selling is legal, sex is legal, why isn't selling sex legal? Why is it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away for free?

      Wired premise, but it makes a point. If it is not yours, you cannot just take it without permission. NFL broadcasts go out over the airwaves for free, but the same laws apply regarding the legality of the redistribution and rebroadcast.

  10. Great point, Justin!

  11. I've been checking daily to see if anyone can tell me why I'm wrong, lol.

  12. This is a huge legal grey area that HAS NOT been resolved.

    There are some lawyers that tell you that it's completely illegal to copy anything. Ironic, given that the upload process copies the file more than once to get it into Youtube.

    There are some that say it's fine, so long as it's fair use. What's considered "fair use" is also a big issue in itself.

    It all depends on your specific situation, your state and what you did. If you download a video off Youtube using their download button, it's fine. If you rip a video off Youtube using one of those sites, it should be fine so long as you claim fair use and only use a certain percentage of the video and so long as whoever owns the copyright isn't a huge dick.

  13. Can You Download With KeepVid?

    Thanx ;)

  14. Let's see, I just went through Staples, and there were four different retail software packages that advertised "Download and convert YouTube Videos!" This isn't internet software, this is $100 + video software.

    So are these companies profiting by selling tools for "criminal" behavior? They don't seem too worried about it...neither does Staples.

  15. Who do I ask to get permission to use this article to guide students about downloading?
    I dont see a contact place and don't want to post my email openly.

  16. I have the Free Youtube Downloader that can be found on Firefox.I use it sometimes if I see a fun video that I like and I just download it to my hard drive and that's it. Am I doing wrong by this? I mean, a lot of other people use this downloader. It's on the top 5 list of most used apps on the Firefox add on store. If i'm getting in trouble for this, then I guess 294,000 other people are too. I don't think the jail is that big enough

  17. This didn't work, I am trying to take a video off of my facebook profile, its a video I made for my three year old and is very special to me and I cant get it off of facebook to put onto my computer so she can watch it when she wants to.....heartbroken!!!!!!!!!!!!!! visit- Youtube Support Call Toll Free No +1-800-231-4635.

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