Readers sometimes ask me to suggest a good software for downloading YouTube videos. I always say, “no.” That’s because downloading videos from YouTube without the permission of YouTube or the video’s owners is not only a violation of your terms of service with Google but illegal. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from offering the software.

The YouTube terms of service say you may not “access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except (a) as specifically permitted by the Service;  (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders; or (c) as permitted by applicable law.”

YouTube also offers a download option for their premium subscribers that lets you download items to view offline for 48 hours. After 48 hours, the access expires.

Terms of service aside, the only way the creators get paid for their videos is if they are played online and generate ad revenue. If you really enjoy a video, you should want to help the creator earn ad revenue.

For those of you using a program to download YouTube videos, I’d advise you to be careful. Google is pretty darn good at tracking who’s using the site and what they do there. If you illegally download videos, it’s possible the copyright holder might decide to bill you for them.

Or you could lose your Google account, which could mean goodbye to Gmail and other services.