How to download music from YouTube legally

Written by terry walcott
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How to download music from YouTube legally
Be careful what you download. (guitar guitarist music musical instrument image by david hughes from

You like a music or concert video posted on YouTube and want to download the song onto your computer or cell phone. Two questions immediately come to mind. First, is it technically possible to download the file? Second, is it legal to copy the file onto your computer? The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is also yes, provided that you obtain permission from the copyright owner or YouTube.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Go to YouTube and access the music video that you want to download. There will be a download link posted on the web page if downloading is authorised. If there is no link, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner or YouTube.

  2. 2

    Search the copyright section of the U.S. Copyright Office website (see Resources) to determine who owns the copyright for the song you want to download. The official copyright document will list the name and address of the owner. Contact the owner and request permission to download the song.

  3. 3

    Contact YouTube and request permission to download noncopyrighted music videos with no download links. The address is YouTube, LLC, 901 Cherry Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066. The telephone number is (650) 253-0000 and the fax number is (650) 253-0001.

  4. 4

    Copy the YouTube URL for the music video you want to download and open the Catch-video web page (see References) in a separate tab. Select the type of conversion you want performed, paste the copied URL into the relevant window, and click on the convert and download tab. The YouTube music video will then be converted into the selected format. You can now transfer or upload the converted file to another device. Note that this instruction only applies to music videos with a download link, owner-authorised downloads or YouTube-authorised downloads.

Tips and warnings

  • It is illegal to download copyrighted music video content from YouTube without prior written permission from the owner. Downloading noncopyrighted material does not require the owner's permission, but YouTube's Terms of Use specifically prohibit downloading site content unless there is a download link on the content or you obtain YouTube's prior written consent.

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