Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

Many people find themselves in a situation when they need to download a YouTube video. Be it for personal use or for sharing, having a preferred video on your computer can be very helpful. However, downloading from YouTube can prove to be complicated. Even worse, it could be illegal.

If you are thinking of downloading a video from YouTube, you need to study the subject carefully. Hardly all videos are created equal. The majority of content on this platform is copyrighted. Downloading and distributing it could be against the law.

Let’s look closely into the process of downloading videos from YouTube and the legal implications of the process.

Is it legal to download videos for YouTube?

When it comes to downloading content from the web,be it torrents or social media platforms, breaking the copyright is always illegal. So when it comes to movies, books, shows, and this type of media, if you are downloading it, you are breaking the rules.

Different countries may have different piracy and copyright laws. Studying them in advance can help you avoid unfortunate consequences. But as a general rule, you should understand that downloading and distributing copyrighted content is illegal. Depending on the country you live in, the punishment can vary from a fine to a jail sentence.

YouTube Rules

YouTube is a widely used platform. Thenumber of users worldwide is approaching 2 billion. The platform is extremely careful about its policies. It has clearTerms of Service, which state: 

The following restrictions apply to your use of the Service. You are not allowed to:

access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except: (a) as specifically permitted by the Service;  (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders; or © as permitted by applicable law;

The interpretation of the Terms of Service is straightforward unless specifically permitted, you can’t download YouTube videos.

Can you get punished for breaking Terms of Service?

YouTube can punish you for breaking ToS by banning your account. You could also be facing a lawsuit. In reality, in its 11 years of operation, YouTube has never sued anyone for breaking the rules. With two billion people using the service, enforcement is somewhat challenging.

The service may be going after websites and software developers that simplify YouTube video downloading. However, when it comes to users, lawsuits are highly unlikely.

That said, any individual user should understand that by agreeing to take advantage of the platform, they are agreeing with the Terms of Service. So in case you break the rules, you have to be ready to face the consequences, no matter how unlikely they may be.

It’s important to figure out for yourself how much you really need that video downloaded, especially since most of them are available 24/7 to anyone with a browser and internet connection.  

Is it illegal to download YouTube videos for personal use?

If you are downloading YouTube videos for personal use, can it be illegal? In the YouTube Terms of Service, there is no specification about personal use. It states that you can’t download any videos.

When it comes to personal use, some of the laws for using copyrighted materials may be lenient. However, since YouTube itself states that downloading is illegal, you have to be ready for the consequences.

In reality, it’s highly unlikely that YouTube or content owners are going to go after you unless you start distributing the videos you’ve downloaded. So most likely, you can get away with using downloaded videos for personal purposes without any punishment.

Is downloading YouTube videos considered piracy?

Even if you download YouTube videos without the intention of passing them on, you could still be going against the copyright protection laws. When something is protected by copyright, it means the person who shares the content is entitled to monetary reward.

Even though special tools for downloading these videos exist, it doesn’t mean you aren’t violating piracy laws. In case you are caught, you may be facing punishment. The reason is not paying for content.

Why should you pay for content, which is readily available for everyone on YouTube? Content makers who provide videos for YouTube collect rewards for advertising. Once you download the video, or worse, pass it on, the content provider stops collecting rewards.

The more you and other people download these videos, the less money the content creator receives. For some content makers, it could be the only way to earn money.

Google is extremely careful about catching pirates. If it catches on to some problems, it’s likely to punish the culprit. If you use the content in a downloaded video for something you post on the website, you may be punished for not giving proper credit to the original content creator.

Online piracy is a complex matter, which needs in-depth studying. However, if you’d like to stay on the safe side, it’s better to avoid downloading YouTube videos altogether. If you do download such content, be careful not to pass it on. In case you financially benefit from distributing such content, you may face serious consequences.  

Is it legal to download YouTube videos for educational use?

Downloading YouTube videos for education use comes with the same set of consequences as doing it for personal use.

Most YouTube videos are readily available for your educational purposes 24/7. If you are unhappy with the ads you have to watch, consider contacting the content creator and ask to pay for owning the material for educational use.

Educational platforms have a variety of content available for free or a reasonable price. In most cases, you can find educational materials there instead of downloading them from YouTube.

How to download YouTube videos

If you’ve decided you need a video for personal use, you’ll be surprised at how many different options you may have.

How to download a YouTube video to PC

To download a YouTube video to your Windows PC, you need to take advantage of one of the downloading programs like4K Download orY2Mate. You can find a variety of such programs in Google. They all work in a similar manner.

1. Copy and paste YouTube URL

Once you choose the YouTube downloading program, open the browser, go to the video you want to download and copy its URL.

Then come back to the downloader and paste the URL into the provided field.

2. Choose files and format

Depending on what downloader you are using, you’ll see a list of files you can download. It will likely be a variety of video and audio files. Next, you can choose the format and quality. You can play around with these options to figure out which one suits your needs the best.

3. Download the video

Choose where on your computer you want to save the video and proceed to hit the “download” button. Once downloading is completed, you can go to the destination folder to retrieve the video.

The majority of downloaders you’ll find online are straightforward. They follow the same simple pattern and provide you with videos in different quality and format.

How to download a YouTube video to Android

If you have an Android smartphone, you would need to download an app for retrieving videos from YouTube. The most popular software isTubeMate, but you can find other options as well.

  1. Download the app and open it
  2. Find the video you want to download from YouTube
  3. Click “download”
  4. Choose the quality of the video
  5. Click “download” again

TubeMate looks similar to the YouTube app. You should search for the video you want to download inside the program.

How to download a YouTube video to an iPhone

iPhones make downloading YouTube videos somewhat tricky. However, if you are ready to spend a little time figuring out how the method works, you can download YouTube videos pretty quickly.

  1. DownloadDocuments, install it, and open the browser
  2. Go
  3. Enter the URL of the video you want to download
  4. Save the video under any name you want and proceed to download it
  5. Other ways to download YouTube videos form the iPhone exist, including using theShortcuts app. 

Is it legal to download YouTube videos and upload to Facebook?

Once you download a YouTube video, it doesn’t become your property. What you have done is still against the platform’s terms of service. However, as long as you are using the content for personal purposes, you are more or less safe.

As soon as you start sharing the content or uploading it to other platforms, you are distributing it. This is considered illegal. 

Final thoughts: Is it legal to download YouTube Videos?

Downloading videos from YouTube is illegal. The platform’s terms of service clearly state that downloading content is against the rules. Meanwhile, numerous methods exist for downloading these videos for personal use.

As long as you don’t distribute the downloaded content, it’s likely you won’t get caught. However, downloading copyrighted materials is illegal and can result in prosecution. 

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