Should questions regarding youtube video downloads be supported by this site? Quick Google search shows particular clauses of youtube terms, which are getting breached.

I received the comment

@miroxlav Violating a terms of service agreement is not criminal in the US (and probably in many other countries). See the court decision Facebook v. Power Ventures – Franck Dernoncourt

But if something is not criminal, it might not necessarily mean that it is ethical. Especially in cases when someone expressed his will NOT TO DO IT. How will this site cope with the above issue?

EDIT: the exact paragraph of youtube terms is 4.C. (or 5.C. in some localized versions): 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.

  • to anyone who downvoted: is this question unclear or off-topic? With downvoting please also leave the comment what has to be improved (as recommended in SE quidelines:).
    – miroxlav
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 21:24
  • Downvoting does not indicate that a question is off-topic. It is supposed to indicate that a question “does not show any research effort”, is “unclear” or is “not useful”. I don't see how this question is unclear. Research effort is dubious because a similar topic has come up before, but you may legitimately have decided that the topics were too different to draw a conclusion. Not useful I can side with, if someone thinks the answer is obvious and raising it is a waste of time. Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 21:32
  • 1
    (I didn't downvote either, although I think we shouldn't pay attention to abusive ToS or laws as it indirectly supports and encourages them) Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 6:01

1 Answer 1


Whyever would we not accept questions about Youtube downloaders? The topic of this site is software recommendations, not software-that-doesn't-download-from-Youtube recommendations.

On the legality of using Youtube downloaders

In my jurisdiction, it is legal to make copies of any content covered by copyright (a book, a CD, a website, …) for personal use; anything else requires the permission of the publisher. As far as I understand — but I am not a lawyer — this means that I am allowed to download Youtube videos. This applies only if I am an anonymous visitor: if I use a Youtube account, then a contract would bind Youtube and me.

DADVSI law (the French equivalent of DMCA) puts an additional restriction that if Google puts technical restrictions on copying Youtube videos, then I am not allowed to work around them. Again, this is my understanding as a non-lawyer. If a piece of software can download Youtube videos, then presumably it is not hampered by these technical restrictions and therefore my copying is allowed. I believe that most EU countries has a similar law (national implementations of EUCD), and there is a similar provision is the US DMCA.

Now it is possible that the downloader software is, in fact, working around a copying restriction. I would need to be both a technical and a legal expert to determine that; this is well beyond me. As a general principle, the law assumes that something is legal unless it has been proved not to be. As a private citizen, I assume that something is legal unless I have a serious presumption that it isn't. Being able to download videos from Youtube does not constitute a serious presumption of illegality, seeing that most web browsers can do it.

On the legality of discussing Youtube downloaders

Stack Exchange operates under US law. US law has very strong free speech provisions, so if you think that discussing something is illegal, you need to have very strong arguments. DMCA is a reason why something might be illegal to discuss: it makes it illegal to discuss acts that are themselves illegal under DMCA. (Have I already mentioned that I am not a lawyer and this is my layman's interpretation?) DMCA has a very specific procedure to censor content that is illegal under DMCA: the copyright owner or a legally appointed representative must contact the content provider. The procedure for doing this is listed at the bottom of the Stack Exchange terms of service. The site's community, has nothing to do with this. In particular, moderators, who are community members, are not agents of Stack Exchange and are thus not empowered to enforce copyright counterclaims.

Nothing I can see in the Stack Exchange terms of service would make discussions about downloading Youtube videos prohibited content. Content that “infringes any intellectual property right of another” is prohibited, but as explained above, to my knowledge, discussions of Youtube downloaders do not infringe any intellectual property right of Google or another party.

On ethics

Ethics are a personal matter. If your ethics prohibit you from participating in discussions related to Youtube videos, please ignore the tag, and you should be spared.

We will not block a topic from discussion unless there is a broad consensus that it should be blocked. The Stack Exchange terms of service prohibit content that “ is libelous, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harassing, hateful, offensive”; I do not see how Youtube downloaders intrinsically fit any of these qualifiers.


If you want to censor discussions of Youtube downloaders or declare them off-topic, you'll have to come up with better arguments that “someone on the Internet says it may or may not be legal”.

  • thank you for reply. Regarding your "Conclusion" parargraph - ok I could have modified my question to explicitly state that there is a paragraph 4.C. saying 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.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:24
  • @miroxlav Where is that? I don't normally use Youtube through an account, so I'm unfamiliar with their terms of service. On youtube.com/t/terms, there is no paragraph 4.C; paragraph 5.1.C reads “vous vous engagez à ne pas accéder au Contenu par quelque moyen que ce soit autre que les pages de lecture vidéo du Site Internet lui-même, le Lecteur YouTube ou tout autre moyen que YouTube peut explicitement désigner à cet effet” which looks like a translation of your quote. But how does this apply if I'm not logged into a Youtube account? Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:31
  • there are many versions of terms based on country. I have switched country (at bottom of page) to International. I agree that the clause 4.C. appears as 5.C. in most of localized agreements. As I can see from 1.A., the terms are not touching only users with user account but users "using or visiting". Same as you, I also normally don't use youtube through an account.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:35
  • I'm not seeking just opposing someone. I'd only like to handle this stuff correctly. So if I understand correctly, if eavesdropping of LAN communication is not explicitly illegal in some country (it's only in terms&conditions of network provider) I can post a question What is the best tool to detect POP3 passwords of other users on my LAN? (Maybe I would like to warn them in case they use weak passwords.) That would basically fall into the same category.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:40
  • @miroxlav Eavesdropping of communications of unrelated parties is illegal in most countries, including mine. It is also quite possibly against Stack Exchange's terms of service as privacy infringement. However, the use of such tools is not necessarily illegal; for example, they are not illegal in the US as far as I know if an employer uses them on their network. In France, they are legal for an employer to use under certain circumstances: it depends what use the employer makes of the collected data and how it's secured, and employees must be informed. Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:44
  • yes, so based on your latest comment (there are cases for legitimate eavesdropping), question What is the best tool to detect POP3 passwords of users on my company LAN? might not be necessarily unsuitable for this site. At most, someone can put warning about illegality of such a behavior into comments.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 20:48
  • 2
    In most cases, laws target uses of tools (programs or other), not the tools themselves. Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 22:15

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