Is It Legal To Download YouTube Videos Or Convert Music Videos To MP3?

creative commons youtube
Just like
many other Google services, YouTube is heavily popular among
internet users. In the recent past, Facebook has tried hard to
steal a big chunk of YouTube’s business, but it has still got
miles of ground to cover. Due to its huge popularity, there are
tons of confusing questions and myths surrounding the legality of
YouTube’s use, downloading, and converting music to mp3.

Before diving into this discussion and trying to answer some
questions, I’d like to tell you about how YouTube’s business
operates and how Google and content creators earn money.

How does YouTube work? — Revenue and copyright stuff

Today, you can find any sort of content on YouTube’s website
and app–ranging from political debates and crazy stunts to cat
videos and insane pranks. It’s completely legal to watch any
free video on YouTube. With the help of Content ID, the company
is able to track the copyrighted videos on its platform. The
revenue from advertisements which are shown with the videos is
split between YouTube and content owners.

Every week, YouTube ads get billions of views and the content
owners are paid accordingly. Let’s suppose I create a YouTube
channel and upload my original videos on the platform.
YouTube will attach a unique Content ID to
each video and track its performance and infringement. If
someone uses my video without my permission, I’ll get notified
of the same and I can ask YouTube to take appropriate actions.

In short, all the fuss is about money and hard work. Every time
you watch a video that displays advertisements, YouTube and
content owner is earning some money. This is where the legality
of downloading YouTube videos or converting them to mp3 format
comes into play.

copyright all rights reservedImage: Wikipedia

Should I download YouTube videos? Is it legal?

Before answering the “should” part, let me tackle the “can”
part. Yes, you “can” download YouTube videos via different
means. We even have an article on the same topic. But, is
it legal to download “any” video from YouTube?

As mentioned in the last section, almost all videos
uploaded on YouTube have some kind of copyright
associated with them. There are agreements
between copyright owners and YouTube that allow you to watch
videos on the platform without directly paying anything. Just
like any other service or app, YouTube too has certain terms of
use that prescribe different rules that you are asked
to follow.

You might boast: “I’ve a large collection of downloaded YouTube
videos stored on my hard drive for personal use and I use tools
to convert music videos to mp3 all the time.” Well, it might be
a common practice among users and Google isn’t suing any user
for doing the same, but it doesn’t mean that it’s legal to go
on the download frenzy for every video on the platform.

It might seem pretty obvious that YouTube will try to stop
users and websites from downloading the videos but the company
hasn’t shown much interest in doing so in the past. In case,
somehow, you end up inviting trouble, you would claim that your
downloading comes under “fair use” in copyright terms. However,
we’d advise you to stay away from trouble.

What does YouTube’s Terms of Service say?

YouTube’s terms specify that you are expected to
access content for personal use as permitted under their Terms
of Service. For the downloading part, YouTube specifically

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

As you can clearly read above, the company prohibits
downloading videos in most cases (the exceptions will be
discussed further in the article). You are only allowed to
stream the content, which means real-time viewing of the video.
In other words, you’re not allowed to use third-party services
to “copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display,
sell, license, etc.”

You can also consider the moral point of view and take the
example of ad-blocking. By blocking ads, you are able to get
rid of some annoying ads and stop the sites from tracking you.
But, overall, you’re stopping the websites from earning money
needed for their survival. It’s your own choice–nobody’s
stopping you from using ad-blockers. Same goes for converting
YouTube music videos to mp3 or downloading them. While chances
of getting any notice from Google are slim, downloading on a
mass scale takes a considerable amount of revenue away from the
content owners.

Which type of content I CAN download from YouTube? How to
download them?

There are some kinds of videos that you can download from
YouTube website. As mentioned above, you can download a video
if you see a “download” or similar link from YouTube. Let’s
suppose, I’m watching a music video on my desktop, and the
uploader has provided a download link in the description. In
that case, I can grab the video.

youtube download video button

In many cases, in smartphone apps, YouTube displays the
download button
just below the video. You can use this
option for offline viewing and the video remains available
inside Downloads section as long as your phone has an internet
connection every 29 days. This method works for the majority of
videos. Please note that these videos won’t be shown in
your Gallery of Photos app on your device.

youtube download video button disabled

However, due to copyright and regional restrictions, for some
videos, the download button will appear greyed-out. So, you
can’t download such videos.

creative commons youtube

Then there are the videos with Creative Commons
which could be downloaded, edited, or reused
by you. Let’s suppose I’m looking for some panda video clips on
YouTube and I wish to use them in another video. To do so, I’ll
have to perform a search and select the Creative Commons
license from the filter menu. You can also see this attribution
just below a video.

Please note that the option to mark a video as reusable is
available to all uploaders. However, you should only use the
Creative Commons tag if it’s your original content or the clips
used in it fall in public domain.

It goes without saying that you’re also entitled to
download your own original video
that you’ve uploaded
on YouTube. If you’re facing trouble downloading the same from
your channel’s dashboard, it could be due to some copyrighted
content in the video, pre-approved audio track, or if you’ve
already downloaded video five times that day.

Meanwhile, you can check out our lists of free and legal movie download sites and
torrent services for entertainment purposes.

Alternatives to illegal YouTube downloading: YouTube Go and
YouTube Red

Apart from regular YouTube app, there are some services that
can satisfy your urge to download videos. You can also use
YouTube Go app for
downloading lots of videos and sharing them with others without
the use of data.

I’d also recommend you to check out YouTube Red, which is
an ad-free YouTube service that comes with other benefits as
well. You can download any video on YouTube Red and listen to
them when your phone’s screen is turned off. It works with
YouTube Kids app as well.

YouTube Red also comes with free access to Google Play Music
for high-quality music streaming and download. There are many
original shows on YouTube Red as well.

In the nutshell, you might be crossing the illegal line without
even knowing it. And because Google hasn’t targeted individual
users in the past, you might be habitual of doing so. In this
article, I’d simply tried to make you aware of the
technicalities in simple terms and my advice would be to use
legal means for watching and downloading content. It’s safe as
well as ethical.

Also Read: 10 Best Websites To Download Paid PC Games For
Free And Legally in 2018


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