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Is it Legal to Download YouTube Videos?

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nyone can upload online videos to YouTube. You don’t need to be a content creator; you could simply be uploading a digital version of an analog video. So if anyone can upload anything, providing it doesn’t breach the YouTube – owned by Google – terms of service, surely anyone can download YouTube videos online?

You can, and it isn’t illegal. There are downloader apps that make it easy to download YouTube videos online.

Should you download videos from YouTube?

However, even though downloading YouTube videos isn’t illegal. It is against the YouTube Terms of Service. YouTube – owned by the world’s largest search engine – makes its revenue from advertising. So even though downloading YouTube videos isn’t illegal when too many people circumvent what makes a platform viable, we are undermining our own ability to watch and enjoy anything we want whenever we want. 

In the Terms of Service, YouTube states that “you agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Player, or such other means as YouTube may explicitly designate for this purpose.”

It should also be noted that “you agree not to access Content for any reason other than your personal, non-commercial use solely as intended through and permitted by the normal functionality of the Service, and solely for Streaming.” Online videos are “not intended to be downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, or redistributed by the user.”

There it is in black and white.  Naturally, YouTube is pretty hot when it comes to copyright issues, so anyone downloading anything for commercial gain in any way could get in real trouble.

Are there alternatives to downloading?

For those in eligible countries – and many expect this to go worldwide now, with Disney getting into the online streaming game – there is YouTube Red, an ad-free video streaming subscription service.

Numerous other online subscription services are available around the world, including Netflix, Hulu, and now Disney+, launching in November 2019. As for watching content on YouTube, we recommend staying on the right side of the terms of service – and looking out for the content creators – and watching them online, wherever you are, on any device.


Jason Dorian

James Dorian is a technical copywriter at Setapp. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations. Follow him on Twitter.

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