Just like many other Google services, YouTube is very popular among Internet users. In the recent past, Facebook has struggled to grab a big chunk of YouTube’s business, but it still has a lot of ground to cover. Due to its immense popularity, there are a lot of confusing questions and myths surrounding the use of YouTube, downloads and the legality of converting music to MP3.

Before I dive in and try to answer some of those questions, I want to show you how YouTube’s business works and how Google and content creators make money.

What is YouTube’s Business Model?

Say in two words – Ads Revenue & Copyright

Today, you can find any type of content – from political debates and crazy stunts to cat videos and crazy pranks – on YouTube’s website and app. It’s perfectly legal to watch any free video on YouTube. With the help of a “Content ID”, the company is able to track copyrighted videos on its platform. The revenue from the ads displayed with the videos is divided between YouTube and the content owners.

Every week, YouTube ads are viewed in billions and content owners are paid accordingly. Let’s say I create a YouTube channel and upload my original videos on the platform. YouTube will attach a unique content ID to each video and track its performance and infringement. If someone uses my video without my permission, I will be notified of the same and I can ask YouTube to take appropriate action.

In short, all the fuss is about money and hard work. Every time you watch a video that shows ads, YouTube and the content owner are making some money. This is the problem with the legality of downloading YouTube videos or converting them to MP3 format.

Could I download videos from YouTube?

Of course, you can. You “can” download videos from YouTube by many methods. But do you realize that it is legal or not? After you download the video and used it in some business or promotion areas, have you noticed if this behaviour has disobeyed the copyright?

Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

As mentioned in the previous section, almost all videos uploaded to YouTube have some kind of copyright protection associated with them. There are agreements between copyright owners and YouTube that allow you to watch videos on the platform without paying anything directly. Just like any other service or application, YouTube has certain terms of use that set out different rules that you are required to follow.

You may be able to boast about that.” I have a large collection of downloaded YouTube videos stored on my hard drive for personal use, and I’ve been using tools to convert music videos to MP3.” Well, that may be a common practice among users, and Google isn’t suing any users who do the same thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal to go on a download spree for every video on the platform.

It might seem pretty obvious that YouTube will try to stop users and websites from downloading the videos but the company hasn’t shown much interest in doing so in the past. In case, somehow, you end up inviting trouble, you would claim that your downloading comes under “fair use” in copyright terms. However, we’d advise you to stay away from trouble.

What does YouTube’s Terms of Service say?

YouTube’s terms state that you should access content for your personal use to the extent permitted by its terms of service. For the download section, YouTube specifically states.

You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content

As you can clearly read, the company forbids downloading videos in most cases (exceptions are discussed further in the article). You are only allowed to stream content, which means watching videos in real-time. In other words, you are not allowed to use third-party services to “copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, etc.”.

You can also think about it from an ethical point of view, using ad-blocking as an example. By blocking ads, you are able to get rid of some annoying ads and stop websites from tracking you. But, in general, you’re preventing the site from making the money it needs to survive. It’s your choice, and no one is stopping you from using an ad blocker.

The same goes for converting YouTube music videos to MP3 or downloading them. While the chances of getting any notifications from Google are slim, mass downloads take a significant amount of revenue away from content owners.

Which type of content I CAN download from YouTube? How to download them?

According to YouTube’s Terms and Conditions, users are not allowed to download any videos from YouTube. Rather than download videos, YouTube wants its users to develop loyalty to the platform.

The longer an individual stays on the YouTube platform, the more ads they see. And these ads bring in revenues for YouTube. This is the primary reason why you can’t download videos from YouTube.

YouTube creative commons

Creative Commons

Then there are videos with Creative Commons licenses that can be downloaded, edited or reused by you. Let’s say I’m looking for some Panda video clips on YouTube and I want to use them in another video. To do this, I have to do a search and select the Creative Commons license from the filter menu. You can also see this attribution under one video.

Please note that the option to mark a video as reusable is available to all uploaders. However, you should only use the Creative Commons tag if it is your original content or if the footage used in it is in the public domain.

It goes without saying that you also have the right to download your own original videos that you upload on YouTube. If you are having trouble downloading the same content from your channel dashboard, it may be due to some copyrighted content in the video, a pre-approved audio track, or if you have downloaded the video five times that day.

In Conclusion

YouTube has set many barriers for you to download and use its videos. If you only need to watch these videos offline anytime you want, it’s ok for you to find a tool to download them. But if your target is to use these videos to get some revenue, you’d better use the creative commons ones or get the permission of the author. Wish you have a good experience watching YouTube videos!