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Is It Legal To Download Music From YouTube?

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Technically, it is legal to convert any video from YouTube to an MP3. However, what makes it illegal is if you capture the audio from music videos that are copyrighted. In this article, we will take a deep dive into what would break YouTube’s TOS and what would actually violate US copyright laws. After we clarify the situation, you will probably need to find a way to download YouTube music, and in our comprehensive guide, you will find all the relevant information.

Is It Legal To Download Music From YouTube for Personal Use?

Short answer: Yes. You aren’t allowed to download material that is copyrighted if you do not have express permission. If the content is not copyright, then you are allowed to download or “rip” both the audio and video from YouTube uploads.

Ripping audio content from videos uploaded on YouTube breaks YouTube’s terms of service. There’s a big difference between US copyright laws and YouTube’s TOS. Violating YouTube’s terms of service is not illegal by law but YouTube could ban your account.

Download Music From YouTube

Can YouTube Ban Your Account for Downloading Music?

If you break their Terms of Service then YouTube could take legal action against you. Anything between a civil lawsuit and a ban could be part of the outcome. However, there are no recorded instances of YouTube initiating civil lawsuits against people that have downloaded content. According to YouTube the action of “stream-ripping” is a violation of their TOS but they haven’t resorted to suing anyone for it.

There’s a very relevant case between YouTube-mp3.org and YouTube. YouTube argued that the service YouTube-mp3.org is providing falls outside of their Terms of Service that specifically prohibit audio capturing of a stream. It was stated that converting YouTube videos to mp3 files is against YouTube’s rules.

The case gained some media traction and despite that YouTube-mp3.org refused to take down their website. And surprisingly, YouTube gave up and ended up not prosecuting YouTube-mp3.org.

When Is It Illegal to Download Music From YouTube?

According to the United States Copyright law, it is illegal to copy content unless you have the copyright owner’s permission. This law applies if you plan to use the content for personal use or if you intend to distribute the material for financial gain. Therefore, if you download TV series, sports footage, or other forms of copyrighted content from YouTube you would be breaking the law. Doing so might result in a criminal trial. Similar laws apply to the UK or anywhere in the European Union. As an individual, the odds of actually facing a criminal lawsuit are slim to none. However, having no lawsuit filed against you does not mean that you aren’t breaking the law.

When Is It Legal to Download YouTube Videos?

When it comes to YouTube’s Terms of Service it is considered a breach if you download video or audio. We also learned that downloading copyrighted content might result in a civil lawsuit. But when is it legal to download music from YouTube?

Yes, there are some instances when using a YouTube downloader is perfectly legal. For some YouTube videos, copyright laws are not applicable or the copyright laws grant you the right to reproduce the video.

Downloading Music From YouTube Legal Type of Videos

  • Public domain: Videos become public domain if the copyright expires, has been forfeited, has been waived, or couldn’t be applied from the start. Anyone can reproduce and distribute the content without facing any legal repercussions because no entity actually "owns" the content.
  • Creative commons: This occurs for content where the artist maintains copyright but chooses to offer public access that allows anyone to reproduce or distribute their content.
  • Copyleft - allows anyone to reproduce, modify, or distribute the content as long as the resulting content maintains the initial rights. We have an article that explains this copyright variant in more detail if you want to fully grasp the concept.

A simple YouTube search will result in a plethora of videos that are either public domain, creative commons or copyleft. It is important to note that you would be breaking YouTube’s TOS if you download the above-mentioned videos. However, doing so will not be illegal according to US copyright laws.

Downloading Music From YouTube Legal Tutorial

We have compiled a list of methods that will allow you to legally download music from YouTube.

1. YouTube Music Premium

If you purchase YouTube Music Premium, you will be presented with the option to download content that is not copyrighted. Once downloaded, you can enjoy the content offline.

This method is subscription-based which means that you will be paying a fixed amount monthly. It is the most convenient legal method of downloading audio and video from YouTube uploads. Another advantage of YouTube Music Premium is the fact that you will be able to enjoy your favorite music without ad interruptions.

is it illegal to download youtube videos

2. Use Airy to download YouTube music legally

Airy is the other highly reliable method of downloading music from YouTube, legal and safe. It offers essential features that YouTube Premium does not have. Airy will allow you to download full playlists or even entire channels. Airy can be fully integrated with your favorite Internet browser and can download content in very high resolution. 4K and even 8K Ultra HD resolutions are readily available. You can also save the content in MP4, FLV, or 3GP formats. Follow these steps to enjoy your favorite YouTube content right away.

1. Get Airy YouTube Downloader and install it on your device.
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2. Find the desired non-copyrighted videos and copy the URL.

Download YouTube music with Airy

3. Paste the URL in Airy, and you will be able to see a preview.

downloading music from youtube legal

4. Choose the desired format and resolution and initiate the download by clicking on "Start".

Download youtube music legally
That’s it - nothing else needs to be configured. The desired video will be available on your device and will also have subtitles available. The subtitles will automatically download and can be found in the same folder as the downloaded video.

3. Request Permission

If you found content that is not copyrighted, there usually will be a link under the video that will allow you to download the content. If the content is not copyrighted but you cannot find the link, you will have to contact the copyright owner and request access.

With the video open, scroll down to the Copyright section, and you will be provided with the name of the entity that owns the copyright. Get in contact with them and request a download link.

Once you have received permission to download the content, you can use Catchvideo to download it. Head over to their website, copy-paste the desired URL, convert and download the content. The YouTube video will be converted and downloaded onto your machine. You are now able to transfer the file to other devices. The above instructions apply for YouTube videos that have a visible download link, owner allowed downloads, or YouTube allowed downloads.

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