Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

Anonymous March 18, 2014
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Is it legal to download YouTube videos from Torch using the video grabber or the video downloader thing?

  1. Bill Dettering
    March 26, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Applian Technologies says that as long as recording is for your personal use, it's legal. Their legal FAQ is here:

  2. Abilash A
    March 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I don't think downloading non-copyright YouTube videos illegal, but selling them is strictly against the rule

  3. Dalsan M
    March 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Location/region of the user and/or content plays a big role on the legality of downloading videos from YouTube or anywhere else on the internet. Copyrighted material, no matter if it is one second of video or audio, or a single image, that is placed into the video without expressed permission from the owner/copyright holder makes the video and the action of download the video illegal in most regions. Some regions do not follow U.S. or other countries' copyright laws, which makes it only a breach of YouTube's terms of service, except when the video has a download button on the page placed by YouTube.

  4. Sonia T
    March 19, 2014 at 5:42 am

    i don't think it legal to download youtube videos as it may infringe the copyright law.

  5. Oron J
    March 18, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Just to add to Chris's excellent observation, "legal" is not necessarily as simple a term as you may think. There are two or three issues here.

    First of all, downloading clips would be a breach of Youtube's terms and conditions. That said, that's not a crime, it would simply allow Youtube (owned by Google) to terminate your Youtube account.

    Secondly, downloading copyright material from anywhere without the owner's consent is illegal. Copyright law gives the owner of the copyright the right to decide who will use the material and how. To complicate things, in the US there's a "fair use" clause that allows some exceptions (e.g. "for study purposes") but this exception does not apply in most other countries, and some countries do allow limited downloading. It isn't obvious whose jurisdiction should take precedence either - the country of the copyright owner, where the server resides or where the material was downloaded?

    More importantly, breach of copyright is definitely not legal, but it's not a crime. Rather, it's a civil offence and the owner can take you to court for compensation, but you wouldn't go to jail for it.

    Disclaimer: Like Chris, I'm not a lawyer, but have been following intellectual property law on the internet for many years.

    • Bruce E
      March 19, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Oron, at least in the US, copyright infringement is a crime punishable by jail time. From Perdue's University Copyright Office website:
      The legal penalties for copyright infringement are:

      Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
      The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
      Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs.
      The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
      The Court can impound the illegal works.
      The infringer can go to jail.

  6. Hovsep A
    March 18, 2014 at 11:06 am
  7. Prashant V
    March 18, 2014 at 8:45 am

    forget about legal or illegal just do what you want but dont say that it is your's because that may violate the copyright (something like that)
    but if you want to download the youtube vids.
    i may suggest you a great site (i also use it everyday)
    it is the best site which can download youtube vids for you
    but please dont avoid reading the reviews of chris h
    please cause i also dont know too much about id
    (as i am in india)

  8. Chris H
    March 18, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Yikes, there's so much cavalier use of the word "illegal" here. I don't know what it is about people online -- there's a difference between something that isn't allowed and something that's illegal.

    Well, let's talk about what "illegal" means. YouTube's terms of service disallow you from downloading videos, does that make it illegal? It's not allowed, it's against YouTube's terms of service, but that doesn't make it a crime.

    For example, let's say you sign a cell phone contract promising to pay $40 per month for the next two years. At some point, you stop paying. Is that "illegal"? Well, you're breaking your contract and the carrier can pursue civil action against you and push you to collections. It's not allowed, it's against the contract, but the government can't pursue a criminal case against you.

    Now, here's the really sad thing. If you're in the US, the CFAA makes any breach of a website's terms of service a federal crime. So yes, downloading a YouTube video is illegal, just like lying on Facebook is illegal (breach of Facebook's terms of service). So I guess it is illegal due to a completely insane law. But only in the US.

    • Chris H
      March 18, 2014 at 3:06 am

      Important Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. This is my understanding of the law.

  9. Jeff F
    March 18, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Not if you don't get caught, otherwise - very probably. You'd probably even get the same prison cell block as the infamous mattress tag bandit and the master balloon thief.

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    • Oron J
      March 18, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      It's illegal even if you don't get caught...

  10. Bruce E
    March 18, 2014 at 1:08 am

    It is illegal to download copyrighted videos from YouTube and most other sources. It is a violation of YouTube's terms of service to download videos that do not have a Download button or link beneath the video in question.

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