Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

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There are as many programs for downloading YouTube videos as there are grains of sand on the seashore. However, many are wondering if it is legal to download videos from this site at all.

Downloading YouTube videos: pros and cons

Let’s face it straight away: you don’t need to fear legal repercussions if you download YouTube videos. By uploading a video, you create a “private copy” for yourself. These copies are legally permitted as long as they are downloaded from a legal source and are not used commercially. YouTube is such a source because every user voluntarily uploads their videos there.

However, if the video is uploaded by someone who does not have the rights to it, you will still not be penalized for uploading. As a user, you can assume that YouTube is offering legal content and deleting illegal content. Accordingly, you are legally safe: if you download an unlicensed piece of music or film, the hypothetical fault lies with YouTube, not you.

What the user agreement says

YouTube’s general Terms of Service say that downloading videos is not desirable or allowed. As a registered user, you are not allowed to download videos. But! If you are not logged into your account, then you did not agree to these terms of use.

However, there is no need to worry even if you have uploaded the video by logging into your profile. No authority in the world will bother hunting down YouTube video downloaders. Since the videos are available for free, YouTube does not suffer financial losses from such downloads.

Recently, however, the music download site Youtube-MP3.org has been affected by this issue. To avoid a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, the owners voluntarily removed the site from the web.

The difference between downloading from YouTube and pirate sites

While you are legally safe when downloading YouTube clips, downloading videos from pirated sites is not officially allowed. Unlike YouTube, content on such services is posted illegally – and you cannot even assume that it, especially in the case of new films or TV series, was uploaded with the consent of the copyright holders. Therefore, refrain from downloading movies from sources that you can clearly identify as illegal.