Is it Illegal to Download YouTube Videos?

Every person who has ever used the internet might be aware of YouTube. YouTube is the most popular video content website on the internet. Its search engine is the 2nd most used search engine in the internet world after its parent company Google’s search engine. According to a report, YouTube serves more than 2 billion users every month

Many people might wonder how YouTube earns revenues. In return for providing video content, YouTube earns through ads on videos, a percentage of the super chats the YouTube creators receive, and the YouTube Premium subscriptions.

With such immense popularity, YouTube has become a hub for content creators. But many platforms are taking undue advantage of YouTube’s content and creating hindrances in the way of content creators. Even though YouTube provides almost 95% of its videos for free to watch, many users use different third-party tools such as YTMP3 or YoutubeToMP3 to download the videos offline. But the question is – Is it legal to download YouTube videos using such tactics?

Let us find that out.

What does YouTube say in its Policy?

If you watch YouTube videos on the smartphone app or the web browser, you are bidden to agree on its terms and conditions, which clearly says:

"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. "Streaming" means a contemporaneous 
digital transmission of the material by YouTube via the Internet
 to a user-operated Internet-enabled device in such a manner that 
the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be 
downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, 
or redistributed by the user."

"You shall not download any content unless you see a 'download'
 or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that content. 
You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, 
sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes 
without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective 
licensors of the Content."

Clearly, YouTube does not want you to view or download its content from any third-party platforms. You are only permitted to download the videos on the YouTube app. On the app also only those videos can be downloaded for which the download icon is available.

So, if YouTube does not want its content to be downloaded and distributed through third-party tools, why doesn’t it take action on such applications or websites and their developers? 

Why does YouTube not take action on YouTube Downloader Platforms?

If you search for the YouTube video downloader on the internet, you will get thousands of multiplatform applications and websites that can download the YouTube video for you just by pasting its URL. You might wonder if YouTube policy is against such practices, then why doesn’t YouTube ban or block such websites or applications?

The reason is that such platforms are innumerable; if you bring down one of them, ten more are ready to take its place. It is like MCU villain organization Hydra. So, if YouTube tries to take illegal actions on all of them, it would cost them more effort and money than they are losing by not taking any action. In simple words, if YouTube is losing $10 because of illegal downloads through apps and websites, it would cost them $11 to $12 to take legal action on such platforms.

The only feasible solution is that YouTube can encrypt its videos so that they cannot be downloaded through third-party means. Other video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others are using such technology, making their videos extremely challenging to rip from their official platforms.

Is it illegal to download YouTube Videos?

Going by YouTube’s terms and conditions, yes, it is totally illegal to download YouTube videos using third-party tools and websites. Apart from that, depending on the region you are living in, copyright law can also cause you legal troubles if you download YouTube content through unofficial means.

The copyright law of the United States clearly says that it is illegal to make a copy of the content without the permission of the copyright owner or the content creator, even for personal use. As per this law, downloading copyrighted videos, movies, web series, etc., from YouTube is illegal and invites legal action from the actual owners.

Though, content creators are unlikely to file a case against the people who are illegally using their content as it is almost impossible to spot such people. Despite that, if you are getting the YouTube videos through illegal means, you are conducting a crime.

But hang on, there are certain conditions in which you can be allowed to download and use the YouTube videos.

There are some technicalities that might allow you to download YouTube videos even through third-party sources legally. Here are those situations:

  • When the download icon is active next to the video, you can legally save the video and watch it offline only on YouTube smartphone apps.
  • For videos on which copyright law does not apply or the law grants permission to reproduce, they can be downloaded and used.
  • If there are any Copyleft videos present on YouTube, the law allows you to download them legally.
  • Public domain videos for which the copyright is expired or does not exist can be downloaded as such videos do not have owners.
  • If the video creator has copyright but granted permission to use and distribute the video publicly, you can download them. Such videos are known as creative commons.

Final Words

It is clear that apart from certain conditions, it is illegal to download YouTube videos through third-party sources. Though, you might still download them because even though it is illegal, the chances of getting in legal trouble are pretty less. However, by illegally using YouTube videos, you are also morally wrong to creators and ruining their hard work. 

Can YouTube ban you for downloading videos illegally?

YES, YouTube can ban you and take legal action if you illegally download videos. BUT it is pretty challenging for them to spot such actions.

How do I download YouTube videos legally?

You can download YouTube videos legally through its Android and iOS apps. However, not all videos are available to download.

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