YouTube is one of the biggest online repositories of videos and video clips. It was originally created to share user generated videos online in an easy manner. Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has become of the most visited websites in the world, and has spawned various other clones. In 2006, YouTube was acquired by Google, and since then, operates as a Google subsidiary.
In recent times, YouTube has been embroiled in a number of controversies, although very few of them are of its own doing. The most hotly debated issue is the proliferation of copyrighted videos on YouTube. This issue has also give rise to another question – Can you legally download a YouTube video?
The short answer to this question is - NO.
You CANNOT legally download a video from YouTube, unless -
>> It is your OWN self-generated video content, which you will be allowed to download in MP4 format.
>> The download is as a part of a sale, whereby the user will be led to a download page on payment, or in some cases, even free of cost from approved YouTube partners.
If you are surprised at this information, it is understandably natural. Just do a random search on Google for “downloading YouTube videos”, and you will gets dozens of tools and aids that will tell you how you can download a YouTube video easily. But please bear in mind, any downloading of YouTube videos by using any of these tools may make you an unwilling accomplice in a copyright infringement. Though it is very unlikely that you, as a general internet user, will be sought out for legal action, yet it is better to be aware of the reality.
The most vociferous group opposing the downloading of YouTube videos is the music industry, which feels that the sharing of free videos on YouTube is robbing the music companies of millions, maybe billions, of dollars in lost revenues every year. Their gripe is faintly resonant of the fate of the popular music files sharing website of yesteryears – Napster (how many of you still remember it?).
But you need not worry too much either – if you are really concerned about the legal aspects of downloading YouTube videos, but still want to enjoy them, the concept of “fair use” protects you. If you have downloaded the video from a legal source, and use it only for non-commercial, personal viewing, then it is a fair use. Just like you record your favorite TV serials or cricket matches for later viewing.
And of course, you can watch all the YouTube videos online to your heart’s content!