Can you download YouTube videos?

29 May 2012

One of the questions I am asked all the time is “Can you download YouTube videos so you don’t have to stream them in class?”

In a recent post I introduced you to YouTube EDU, a fantastic resource for finding great videos to support your lessons.  The problem is that often after finding a great video, we go to show the video in class and the internet is too slow or is down altogether.  There is nothing worse than being part way through a video and having the buffer symbol come up!

To eliminate this problem, teachers have turned to third party software to download YouTube videos onto their computer so they don’t have to worry about the internet connection.  But many wonder if this is legal or not.

Section 5 of YouTube’s Terms of Service provides the answer.

Section 5 of YouTube's Terms of Service

Sp, if you are asking ‘can you download YouTube videos’, the answer is yes.  If, however, you are asking can you LEGALLY download YouTube videos, the answer unfortunately is no.

It is illegal to download YouTube videos even if you are not changing, selling, or claiming them as your own.

There are plenty of people who argue that you should be able to download YouTube videos because the people who uploaded them have made them public and are not trying to sell the video.  Others will argue that your computer downloads the file to your computer anyway as it is buffering so technically you are downloading the file.

Whilst all these arguments are valid, the Terms of Service relating to whether you can legally download YouTube videos is quite clear.  If you would like to read the terms of service you can see THIS LINK (refer to section 5, part B and C).

I would love YouTube to devise some sort of licensing agreement where teachers could download YouTube videos specifically for educational purposes. However, this would probably create a litigation nightmare, so is unlikely to happen.

So this leaves teachers with a dilemma:

Do we download YouTube videos anyway? What are your thoughts?

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In 2018, Using Technology Better designed and delivered a two phase post-migration training program for this New Zealand based graphic design firm. The initial goal of the training program was to reduce frustration with G Suite, with the long term aim of facilitating a change in culture and collaboration that can lead to transformative practices

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