Is downloading videos piracy?

Who’s up for a good debate today? You guys know by now that I LOVE getting up on a soapbox. Especially about the rights of digital content providers. Since that’s how I make my living, you really can’t blame me, right?  A reader did not agree with the statement that downloading videos from YouTube without the express permission of the content creators is piracy.

“Downloading videos or music for personal use is not piracy, therefore it is not illegal or breaking a law. To impose that upon people would be tyrannical and opposition to such a law would be important. Piracy is when you sell something that is not yours, downloading for personal use has been done for a long long time. That’s why radios have record buttons, VHS had record buttons, and DVR have record buttons. I’ll never understand these sheeple who say it’s illegal and wrong to download something for personal use.”

Even if I were to agree that downloading content without the permission of the platform or the person providing the content isn’t illegal, (Which I don’t BTW) it is a violation of your terms of service with YouTube and could lead to the suspension of your account.

Below I’ve copy/pasted YouTube’s terms of service:

You agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself, the Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.

  1. Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licensors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content.
  2. You agree not to circumvent, disable or otherwise interfere with security-related features of the Service or features that prevent or restrict use or copying of any Content or enforce limitations on use of the Service or the Content therein.

My other objection to downloading without permission or payment, is that the people who provide the content to YouTube have only one avenue of making money. They earn money based on ad revenue tied to the number of times their videos are viewed on the YouTube platform. If you download a video and watch it from home, those plays are not being recorded. If you enjoy the content so much that you want a copy of it, shouldn’t you want to make sure the person who provided it to you is reimbursed?

Just a thought from a person who has seen eBooks I’ve written pirated and posted on sites for people to download for free.

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