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Is Downloading Video from Youtube illegal?

Michel sent us a question below.

“Is it illegal to talk about downloading audio or video from Youtube to iPad or local computer. I’m not perfectly sure of any of this because a user of this website has justified downvoting many of my questions and answers because talking about this is supposedly illegal.Thanks.”

If by personal use, you mean having the file available on your own hard drive or iPad for offline viewing, the answer is yes. If you by personal use, you mean sharing it with friends or posting it on your personal facebook page, then no.

Downloading video from YouTube does breach Google’s terms of service, too. Within Section 5.1 it states: “YouTube hereby grants you permission to access and use the Service, subject to the following express conditions, and you agree that your failure to adhere to any of these conditions shall constitute a breach of these Terms on your part: you agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Player, or other means as YouTube may explicitly designate for this purpose. See also: How to download YouTube videos to your iPad

“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 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.”

In other words, you are permitted to view YouTube video only through Google’s own website and apps. You are not, then, permitted to view YouTube video offline on your iPad, iPhone or Android device through a third-party app. TubeMate YouTube Downloader and similar apps are not found in Google Play, and you must look elsewhere on the web to download them. And while Apple may at times allow similar apps into its App Store, it doesn’t own YouTube and, in any case, you’ll often find they don’t stay in the App Store for long.

Such third-party YouTube to iPad downloader and converter apps will continue to pop up on the web, and people will continue to use them to make available offline their favourite YouTube videos. Google might not be aware that you’re using them to download content from YouTube, and even if it did any threats of banning you from the service are all but impossible to uphold. You don’t need to be signed into your Google account to access YouTube. It’s up to you to decide whether the practice of downloading video content from YouTube is morally correct.