YouTube has gained popularity as the leading video sharing platform over the past years. It has acquired a lot of loyal fans wherein the majority of them liked downloading their favorite videos or music for offline playback on their devices. Lots of them would use third-party software to download these Youtube videos but some might see this as a questionable issue.
Speaking of downloading YouTube videos, the associated question "Is it legal to download Youtube videos?" is very hard to ignore. Up to this day, it has always been a topic of discourse and countless individuals are still confused about it.
But sometimes, the answer to the question is a definite one. Downloading music videos and TV shows, for instance, is illegal. What about other kinds of content? Is downloading Youtube videos always illegal? Or are there instances when it is not?
Moreover, does download YouTube videos for personal use make it legal? Most of you might say that it is something of a grey area. But actually, it’s either pure black or white.
So, to end this confusion about the legality of downloading Youtube videos, let us settle this question in this article.
Section 1 - Youtube’s Terms of Service (ToS)
It is necessary to recognize the difference between the two sides of the issue. First is how YouTube itself views the issue. Second is how the law in your country takes care of these kinds of controversies.
But first, let us begin with Youtube’s perspective on the situation.
In the fifth item in Youtube’s Terms of Service, it was stated in the second sub-item:
“...You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these 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, make available online or electronically transmit, publish, adapt, 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...”
This part of YouTube’s Terms of Service answers the question “Is it legal to download Youtube videos?”. YouTube certainly prohibits anyone from downloading their videos.
Furthermore, the advertising section has taken a considerable part in YouTube’s revenue. This means that if more visitors view a Youtube video, more money can be demanded by Youtube for displaying the advertisements. So if one downloads a Youtube video for offline playback, Youtube loses the chance of making money from the ads.
Given these situations, some of you might jump to the conclusion that downloading videos from YouTube is illegal.
But wait for a second, why is it that when you search Youtube download tutorials on Youtube itself, you would see numerous results? Why do many guides in downloading a Youtube video come out if it is illegal?
Thus, we will be analyzing the certain instances in which downloading a Youtube video becomes legal and considers what YouTube calls a ‘Fair Use’ in the succeeding sections.
Section 2 - Does YouTube Ban Those Who Download Their Videos?
If one violates the Terms of Service of Youtube, it has various legal options that can deal with this issue. Hypothetically, you can be banned or filed with a civil lawsuit if YouTube finds out about this.
That being said, YouTube has not still sued anyone for the reason of downloading their content. Some time ago, YouTube did consider suing YouTube-MP3.org (one of the most popular YouTube video downloaders) for violating their Terms of Service. But they conceded after the Youtube downloader platform refused to budge.
But in 2017, UMG, Sony Music, and Warner Bros had sued YouTube-MP3.org for copyright infringement which caused the site to eventually shut down.
Moreover, any search engine will show countless numbers of apps, tools, and sites that let you download a YouTube video. This is probably the reason why it is not very often that we hear news about YouTube filing new lawsuits against the operator of these tools. YouTube might have realized that the trouble caused by the difficulty of filing cases against these sites costs more than it is worth.
Some anecdotal sources even imply that most of these YouTube downloader sites are allowed by Google to run Ads. Maybe Alphabet is concerned more about the monetization of these sites’ huge traffic than inflicting a penalty on them.
Similar to the case with piracy in the early 20th century, the repeated efforts in resolving the problem are very frustrating. Because as soon as one the applications, sites or tools are forced to shut down, a dozen of new similar ones are rising in its place.
Section 3 - Do Download YouTube Videos Violate the Law?
YouTube may have turned a blind eye to many surfacing video downloaders nowadays but what about the law? Does one commit a crime when they download a YouTube video? As one may always answer, it depends on the situation. But let us have a glance at how the US law handles issues on downloading YouTube videos.
I. When Is It Illegal to Download YouTube Videos?
In the US, laws regarding copyright dictate that making a copy of the content is considered illegal if you haven’t asked the permission of the owner of the copyright. This applies to whether you are making copies for your personal use or for distribution of the content which you intend to benefit from financially.
This means that downloading clips of sports videos, movies, TV series or any other content that has a copyright on YouTube is violating the law. Thus, making one at risk of facing criminal charges. This law is also being employed in the European Union and the UK.
Generally, the chances that an individual will face a criminal lawsuit is extraordinarily slim. But they are still breaking the law anyhow.
II. When Is It Legal to Download YouTube Videos?
Now, we know that if you download a YouTube video, this means that you are also violating YouTube’s Terms of Service. Especially if you are downloading a content that has a copyright on YouTube.
But are there any situation that makes downloading a YouTube video legal? Of course! You can use a third-party video downloader, such as DumpMedia Online Video Downloader, to download YouTube videos. But make sure that the content that you are downloading is not protected by copyright laws. Or if the copyright permits you to produce copies of the video.
In the following are the various types of videos that you can download on YouTube legally:
Copyleft videos permit anyone to distribute, modify the work and produce copies of the video. This is as long as the derivative of the content applies the same rights as the original one.
2. Creative Commons
Creative Commons are videos in which the owner has retained the copyright but gave permission to the public to either reproduce and/or distribute the video.
3. Public Domain
A video becomes a public domain when the copyright of the content has been inapplicable from the beginning, been waived, been forfeited or has already expired. This means that anyone from the public is granted permission to freely distribute or reproduce the video.
When you search YouTube for videos, you can find a lot of videos that are categorized in the above classifications. But always take into account that downloading a YouTube video will still break the Terms of Service of YouTube. Though it will not result in a criminal act.
III. YouTube’s Fair Use
Another thing that allows you to download YouTube videos legally is what we call “Fair Use” which is granted by YouTube. This allows you to download and use videos with copyrights without the need for permission from the owner of the copyright. This is the safest method you can do to download videos.
Now let us go to the various situations in which a video use is called “Fair Use”.
- Your use if a fair use if you download and use a YouTube video as a material for:
- News reporting,
- Research, or
- It is fair use if you give credit to the owner of the protected YouTube video’s copyright.
- If you download a YouTube video and modify and edit it adding original materials of your own to make a creative version but do not intend to generate profit from it, it is fair use. Such examples are parodies of popular songs and clips for entertainment.
- Furthermore, you must add "no copyright infringement intended" to the description of the videos you modified.
- Lastly, it is also legal if you download YouTube videos that belong to you. For instance, recorded shows from a TV, music videos you purchased from iTunes, or videos you have ripped from your DVD.
Even if YouTube is not able to track and ban you when you download a youtube video using a third-party video converter and downloader without signing in, it is still safer if you download YouTube videos in Fair Use instances. You can try DumpMedia Video Converter if you are looking for a video converter and downloader.
Section 4 - Let's Wrap it Up
To wrap up our discussion, here are the key takeaways you should remember:
- Downloading a YouTube video violates YouTube’s Terms of Service and they can ban and sure you.
- YouTube is not interested in penalizing its users who are downloading their videos.
- Downloading a copyrighted YouTube video without the copyright owner permitting you to download it is a criminal act.
- Videos are having the correct licenses that you can download legally.