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How to Download Videos from YouTube and view them offline

by Neil MacQueen for

  Lately, I've been using   See other similar services linked below.

  1. All you need is the URL of the YouTube video you want to copy and download.
  2. Copy that URL from YouTube's website and PASTE that URL into the download site's interface.
  3. Then select the MP4 video format and preferred download size, and convert/download it.
  4. After the file is converted, the service will download the file to your computer. DONE.

Just pay attention and don't click on any 'ads' or download buttons for other software they may try to push at you. I've listed some other download services below in this article.

Note: Some Youtube URLs can now thwart downloading attempts. When you go to paste the URL of the video into their site's download feature, a message may pop up saying "can't do that."  If that happens TRY ANOTHER DOWNLOAD SERVICE.

Viewing or downloading YT videos for personal or teaching use is not piracy

YouTube's business model is to share the ad revenue with the copyright holder of record. That's why you see ads. When you click a music video, the rightful owner of that song gets a cut of the ad revenue. How do they do that? YouTube's technology can detect the digital fingerprint of every song and video. It's like the "Shazam" app. When someone uploads a song or video, YouTube takes its fingerprint and then looks to see whether or not the publisher has an agreement with YouTube to allow their content to be uploaded by fans. MOST DO.

The problem is that YT doesn't like you taking their videos OFF their site --even if you have a legitimate and perfectly legal right to do so. Converting content to a viewable format (such as downloading) for non-commercial TEACHING USE is protected by US Copyright Law (sec 101). All the YouTube and FBI warnings in the world can't change Federal Copyright Law.

As an educator, you have the right to convert the format of material you want to teach with from one format to another  (from online to downloaded file, for example, or from paper to projection on the screen). This is the same "right to copy" behind the perfectly legal practice of making a CD copy of your favorite music to play in your car, or putting a Bible book on the church copier to make a few copies of a certain part of the content for easier handling in our classroom.) 

That said...
IDEALLY, YOU ARE watching the video on YouTube via an internet connection in your classroom. Having access to the internet in your classroom here in the 21st century is the equivalent of having an electricity back in the 20th century. Do it. At the very least, you can use your smartphone to set up an internet hotspot that your laptop or smart tv can connect to. Read "how to set up a wifi hotspot using your phone."

Free Services that Download Videos from YouTube and Vimeo

I've been using But sometimes I have to try another service. is great for non-musical videos. Videos with copyrighted music, however, may be rejected by clipconverter for conversion.  See screenshot help below., to date, allows the downloading of music videos from YouTube. Please keep in mind what we said above about supporting the artist. After you download the video with Keepvid, go buy the song to stay in the right. See screenshot help below. 

How is it that many Bible movies and Animated Bible Videos are on Youtube?

In many cases, the copyright holder has posted them.  Superbook, for example, gives their away for free, or you can buy the DVD. In some cases the online version is lower resolution. In many cases, the copyright holder did not post them, but tolerates their online existence because they are getting a share of the ad revenue from YouTube.

Youtube makes it extremely easy for a copyright holder to have their content removed from Youtube, and movie houses/publishers are generally vigilant about such things. Thus, if it is posted, the owner may have an ad-revenue agreement with Youtube. ...which is why the content has not been removed.

In general, however, you should not be trying to TEACH with full-length copies of Christian videos (or any commercially produced video) on Youtube without knowing whether or not it's bootlegged. And here's the sign: The bootlegs often are low resolution and have the credits cut off.  The publishers may permit their existence on YouTube BECAUSE they are low resolution -- hoping you will buy the real thing. And you should.


Photos (4)
Original Post

The Legality of Downloading Content from YouTube

A researched opinion

Teaching with YouTube content, either online or OFFline, for teaching purposes is Federally protected "fair use," according to Section 107 of the US Copyright Statute.  

YouTube's boilerplate copyright statement and terms of service cannot negate this historic and Federally granted right to teachers, researchers, and commentators who are using freely available copyrighted material for the purposes of teaching, commentary, parody, or research.

In addition to using the material as the teacher sees fit, the teacher has the copyright to transform/transfer/copy the material from one medium to another, such as, a handout, or making an excerpt of a video, or changing the file format or manner of playback. Changing the format of a video from online to thumbdrive so you can show it to your students is not piracy as long as the content was put out there for public consumption --and YouTube is about as public as it gets. In the same way, you can burn ALBUMS to CD and share them in class, and you can take pictures of Billboards and teach with them in your class --because Billboards are too big to bring into class! This broad protected teaching discretion applies to internet content whether it is viewing online or off. Federal Copyright Law protects HOW, WHEN, WHERE and in WHAT FORMAT we use copyrighted to teach with.

YouTube cannot force a teacher to "show their ads" any more than any curriculum provider can "require" students see ads in their material. It's great that they are sharing ad-revenue with the artists who post their material FOR FREE on YouTube, but the copyright holders are under no illusion that people are reading all the ads, or can be forced to.  It's a massive grey area.

YouTube's terms of service (TOS) which you may or may not have agreed to as a user, states that downloading a video and viewing it "offline" violates their terms of service,  Why?  Because they want everyone to see their advertisements online. However, teachers are not compelled to show ANY advertising to their students. 

As long as the change in format (such as from online to downloaded file) and location of use (such as on YouTube, or on a tablet that doesn't have the internet) continues to be for teaching purposes, it is protected use.


  • Imagine being told your students can only read a free book "within the bookstore," and that they must also read the advertisements that come with the book.  (YouTube being "the bookstore.")  
  • Imagine being told that you can only teach with a DVD -provided you show your students the trailer ads for other movies also included in that movie.
  • Imagine being told that you cannot convert your VHS tapes to DVDs, or can't convert a video file to a format that would allow you to project it to your students?
  • Imagine being told that you cannot SAVE a video for later viewing in the classroom? 

Please note: This does not apply to pirated material. It only applies to material which the copyright holder has allowed to be circulated or sold. This is why you need to be careful about what you use from YouTube, ...making sure it has not been illegally posted. YouTube is continually evolving its tools to identify illegally posted content. And they are increasingly engaged with the internet legal community to protect legitimate "fair use." 

If YouTube were selling their videos, we'd have to buy them. But they are giving them away and cannot compel us to watch their ads. And if we purchased them, we'd still have the right to transfer them to a different storage format and play them back without watching their ads.

Question: Is YouTube, in effect, "selling" you its "free" videos at the cost of making you watch ads? There is no legal precedent for this, no case law. On the other hand, there is ample legal precedent for not being forced to watch something. This is the conundrum of YouTube's technology, and many legal experts have noted that we are in a period of "feeling our way through" this brave new world of freely available -yet copyrighted and ad-surrounded content. 


In the case of music videos, if you need to download a music video from YouTube to show it outside of YouTube's wrapper in a teaching situation or for the purposes of commentary,  I strongly encourage you to BUY the song from iTunes or Google Play. It will cost you under $2 and meet your obligation to the copyright holder's rights and creativity.  (As far as honoring YouTube's right to ad revenue, you probably spent enough time watching the video with its ads already.)   In the US, we can legally purchase a song an store it on multiple devices for playback. Teachers can bring the song into the classroom and teach with the legally purchased song as well.

It's a brave new world, and as teachers, we need to do our best and have good intentions, but we should also not give up our historical and Federally protected rights.

Some Links:

YouTube's own "Fair Use" Foggy "Maybe"

Neil MacQueen is a Presbyterian minister, author, and multi-media producer. He has been researching and writing about copyright law for Christian Education for a number of years.

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