Millions of People Want to Download YouTube Videos. So Why Not Let Them?

It’s the same argument that was made about Napster back in the 90s.

After all, if millions of people wanted to file-swap and build huge MP3 collections, why not let them do it?  And, wrap whatever model you could around that activity (or create a better, low-cost alternative)?

Welcome to the same discussion, 13 years later.  Here’s a guest post from Philip Matesanz, founder of, which is now under heavy legal attack from Google.  Matesanz feels that he has very defensible legal arguments (specifically in Germany), though in all likelihood, he won’t be able to defend those arguments.

“A few days ago we received a cease-and-desist letter from Harris Cohen, who is one of YouTube’s lawyers.”

Google is accusing us of threatening the safety of our users and wants us to close immediately. If we don’t comply, they’ve threatened to sue us.  Unfortunately Google has just blocked all of our servers from accessing YouTube so we’ve had to disable all conversion functionality.

We’ve refused to close this service and asked it would be possible to speak to a YouTube representative to find a solution that would be in the best interests of all our users. Since there are tens of millions of real people using this service, we thought Google would be willing to have a quick chat.  But the opposite was the case: There was no interest whatsoever in even a simple call; they don’t care about all these people that want to use such a service.

“We’d estimate that there are roughly 200 million people across the world that make use of services like ours.  Google isn’t just ignoring all those people, they are about to criminalize them. With the way they are interpreting and created their TOS, every one of those 200 million users could be sued by Google.”

We’ve never put any of our users at risk and have taken measures to protect them from all sorts of threats. Those measures did cost us a lot of money, but we didn’t care about that.  The reason is that we’ve never been profit-oriented, but rather user-oriented.

Just to name a few of these protections:

(1) More than 65 percent of all page-impressions never had a single advertisement on it.  

We could have easily filled those page-impressions with ads: bad ads. We haven’t done it because we don’t believe that running gambling, pornographic or fraudulent ads is acceptable.  Those ads would have paid pretty handsomely, but we choose our users over that money.

(2) We never run pop-ups.

Another decision that lowered our profits drastically.

(3) Our own infrastructure never stored any logs on disk.

We did this to protect our users from exactly what is happening right now.

We’re wondering what happened to Google. It wasn’t long ago they lived by their “don’t be evil” philosophy, and did what their users wanted.  Nowadays, they’re ignoring millions of users, while referring to their questionable good intentions.  And all the while, ignoring the “TOS” of others to increase their profitability.

To give a few examples:

Google News

A great service, but there was a huge outcry in Germany.  Most large publishers didn’t want Google to scrape content off their sites and profit from that. So what has Google done? They underscored their intention to provide a good service for their users, and therefore ignored the publishers.  This whole topic got so popular that even the German government is about to intervene and plans to stop Google with a new set of laws.

Google Books

Another great service, but there are also publishers and authors that don’t want their books to be scanned.  Does Google care about this?  Of course they don’t.

Our service, on the other hand, is requested and used by millions of people.  Compared to Google News, our government has publicly recommended that its citizens to make use of so called YouTube recorders/converters.  The rise of such software couldn’t have been unexpected for Google, especially since it has happened with other technologies in the past as well.  Indeed, the fact that Google is creating such recording software also is particularly exciting.

I also submit to you a brief history on format recording, to further illustrate my argument.

(a) After the radio was invented, people could make use of casette recorders to make a copy of various programs.

(b) After the TV was invented, you could use a video recorder. Nowadays, you can use a more modern product like Google TV

And just for the record:

We’ve never used the YouTube API to pull any videos from them.

We truly believe that our service is legal. German Courts have ruled that an online recording tools are no different from any TV recorder or something comparable.

The German Department of Justice has publicly advised users to download content off of YouTube.

So how can you help us?

– Write a complaint e-mail to Harris Cohen or YouTube’s general mailbox.

– Write about this on your blog, or post this on your Facebook page.

– If you are Larry Page or Sergey Brin: Contact me.


All the best,


6 Responses

  1. Casey

    Google has to do things like this to protect themselves. If they don’t, they could be sued again by companies like Viacom. Doesn’t matter if this company is operating legally or not.

  2. Visitor

    Google believes people should “share” IP only when Google makes money on it. This threatens their ability to make money from the creative IP of others.

  3. Visitor

    Millions of People Want to Download YouTube Videos. So Why Not Let Them?
    Short answer:- because the copyright holders of the video content have not give express permission for these videos to be downloaded.

    In many cases the rights holders have not given permission for the content to up on youtube in the first place – but that is neither here now there. What is certain is that no express permission has been given for downloaded copies to be made.

    It’s not rocket science…..

    • reality

      You are on the right track. Just want to add that, Google/Youtube/ and all the people who rip video dont care about rights holders or express permission.

      Google/Youtube is not suing out of the goodness of their hearts they are just polishing their image and covering their asses

  4. Sure!

    Millions of programmers want to examine and experiment with the Google Search algos. So why not let them?