YouTube to MP3 Downloaders: Are They Illegal to Use?

YouTube to MP3: Legal, or Ilegal?

The biggest ‘YouTube to mp3’ converter in the world, youtube-mp3.org, is in court.  But does that mean it’s illegal to use YouTube to mp3 converters, or even operate one?  Here’s how to stay safe and avoid getting sued.

Please note: this article deals primarily with US copyright law as it relates to ‘youtube to mp3’ video mp3 converters.  We also briefly discuss German copyright law.  Next, we will be expanding this piece to include other countries soon.  So let us know where you are reading this!

Here are some important issues to keep in mind.  We hope they clarify some things for you.

(1) YouTube is 100% legal to use.

You can’t commit piracy or violate a copyright by streaming anything— at any time — on YouTube.  So you are completely safe here.

But is it legal to convert YouTube music videos into downloads, so that you can view them later?  Or, make any other type of video conversion?  That remains a confusing question, though here are a few more things to keep in mind.

(2) YouTube isn’t suing anyone for converting videos.

YouTube says ‘stream-ripping’ is a violation of their Terms of Service.  But they haven’t sued anyone for this.

Several years ago, Google and YouTube threatened to shut down the largest youtube to mp3 converter, YouTube-mp3.org.  They argued that the site was in direct violation to YouTube’s Terms of Service, or TOS, which prohibits capturing a video stream.  That goes around YouTube’s code to convert mp3 files, which is against their rules.

Sounded pretty serious.  But the operators of youtube-mp3.org refused to comply.  And interestingly, YouTube folded, and decided to never prosecute youtube-mp3.org.

That sounded like the end of that, though Google refused to include the site in its ad network.  They also promised to remove the converter from its search engine, based on TOS violations.  Again, sounded pretty serious.  But fast-forward to 2016, and youtube-mp3.org is still a top Google search result.

And according to a recent music industry lawsuit, the site still runs Google-powered ads.

So it looks like Google really doesn’t care, even though converting videos into mp3s and mp4s violates their TOS.  And as an individual user, you really don’t need to worry about a lawsuit from YouTube.

(3) It IS illegal to convert copyrighted music videos into downloads.

That said, nobody has been sued for this (yet).

Again, it is completely legal to watch any video you want on YouTube.  Streaming from a legitimate site is permitted under copyright law.  And if it doesn’t involve creating a video mp3 or download, you’re in the clear.

But, it IS illegal to create a personal download conversion of a copyrighted work under US copyright law.  That includes an mp3, mp4, or any other download file type from your videos convert process.

In the future, it may become legal to download any video from YouTube, as long as it’s for personal use.  But if a judge decides that, expect the music industry to go to war against YouTube and its converters.

Recommendation?  

The safe bet is to avoid downloading copyrighted works, converting mp3s, or using video mp3s to enjoy YouTube.  For example, you probably shouldn’t convert something like this into an mp4 or mp3:

(4) It isn’t illegal to convert non-copyrighted videos into downloads.

German copyright owners actually sued YouTube-mp3.org over this very issue.  YouTube MP3 actually lost the case, but were allowed to continue operating their service.  A German court determined that merely shifting formats is not illegal, and ordered YouTube-mp3.org to cease storing tracks on its servers.

The result was merely an application for copying.  Think of a VHS tape recorder making a personal duplication back in the 90s, and the same general principal applies.

So, they site made the changes ordered by the judge.  That is why youtube-mp3.org is still around today, and one of the largest in the world.

So what can you download using YouTube to mp3 converters?  Here’s an example of a video you can legally download.  It’s what’s called a ‘royalty free’ or ‘copyright free’ work.  Go ahead, make a download of it!

(5) Why is it legal for YouTube-mp3.org and other youtube to mp3 converters to exist?

Youtube-mp3.org hasn’t been convicted of any crime, at least not yet.  And the site may also be completely legal, depending on the outcome.  But that all depends on what a federal judge decides.  Deliberations over the law are happening as we write this article.

Currently, in the US, this is a core issue in litigation between the music industry and Youtube-mp3.org.  Music industry groups like the RIAA argue that YouTube-mp3.org is knowingly enabling piracy of copyright works.  They allege that YouTube-mp3.org is illegal circumventing technological protections against downloading, and storing copies of copyrighted works on their servers.

Throughout, YouTube-mp3.org is profiting from these conversions by serving ads to users, according to the plaintiffs.  Also, there are ‘anti-circumvention’ laws that prohibit technologies from defeating protections or security.

YouTube-mp3.org will probably argue that they don’t even know they’re violating copyright.  Even if they keep track, they don’t know until after the fact, which makes enforcement difficult.  How do they know it’s Beyonce, and not a baby video?  That will be a major area of debate in the coming months.

(6) Why isn’t it illegal to stream music for free on YouTube again?

Copyright owners have permitted it, that’s why.  YouTube also enjoys protection from a US-based law called the DMCA (and another variation in Europe).  What does the DMCA state?  Under the law, YouTube must remove unauthorized videos.  But only the lawful copyright owner has issued an alert.

YouTube cannot be sued without first receiving a warning, and given the chance to respond.

The industry actually hates that law, but YouTube (and Google) have spent millions to protect it.  The music industry thinks Google is abusing a loophole, while Google says it balances the needs of everyone.

YouTube says ContentID, a system used to identify and prevent uploads, is a powerful tool for content owners.  But the industry says this system doesn’t work.

And the arguments go on.  And on, and on.  Essentially, a lot of people are suing one another for control over copyright.  Google wants free rein, the industry unsurprisingly does not.  So, stay tuned for more developments in this fight.

But, for the average user, none of this matters.  Nobody is going to sue you for using YouTube.

(7) How do I take audio from a YouTube video?

The process for downloading free songs from YouTube is simple.

(a) Pick an online YouTube to MP3 service.

(b) Cut n’ paste the url of the YouTube video that you want to convert.

(c) Hit ‘convert’ and wait for your download.

And that’s how you download just the audio from a YouTube video! Remember, you can download music off of YouTube, or any audio you want.  Just make sure to follow copyright rules.

(8) Which is the best YouTube to MP3 downloader for Android?

There are many services to use; the best place to start is the Google Play Store for Apps.

(9) What happens next with YouTube to Mp3 converters?

Maybe it becomes totally legal, or becomes completely illegal.  Right now, it’s best to just follow the above rules, and stay safe.  Then, check back here in a few months for an update on where things stand.

We hope that helped!

 

Top image by wonderferret (CC by 2.0).

62 Responses

  1. Avatar
    teddy

    Yea Google really care that they let this site sit number 1 in their search results lol, you do realise that its probably owned by Google or someone close to Google.

  2. Avatar
    Patrick Courrielche

    I believe YouTube-mp3.org technically lost the original case in Germany with BVMI, a German music industry association, because they were storing files on their hard drive for others that came to the site wanting the same download. This storing allowed popular files to be downloaded quicker. The court posited that if YouTube-mp3.org changed its functionality so that the files were not stored, but rather just a pass through, then the site would function more as a true recorder like the cassette players of old and could continue its service. Rather than go to court and litigate the issue with BVMI, YouTube-mp3.org agreed to change its functionality…which is why the site is up an running to this day.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      That’s a huge clarification, thanks Patrick. Actually, I noticed in the US filings by the RIAA et al that there is an allegation of stored files (for quick delivery). But, perhaps that architecture was addressed and changed for good.

  3. Avatar
    Troglite

    Most permitted home recording uses are based in the concept that the copy of the work created will be restricted to private use by the individual that created it. That seems difficult to assert when the copy is generated by a shared public resource like this type of web/mobile. Unlike your old school cassette deck, the technology in question is inherently unrestricted and public.

  4. Avatar
    Cybrawler253

    But youtube-mp3 stopped working a couple days ago, along with youtubeinmp3. Are the sites never going to work again?

  5. Avatar
    Badoslover

    and it’s still down, claiming site is undergoing maintenance??????

  6. Avatar
    Hi

    Just want to know if the ‘maintenance’ issue with the youtube-mp3 site is related to this at all? It has been like this for a couple of weeks at least now where I have tried to convert a song and it says the site is undergoing maintenance, check back within the hour.

  7. Avatar
    Dixie Normus

    It’s 10/22/2016 and the site still is not working. Does anyone know what’s going on?

    • Avatar
      Dale

      Yes, Google and You Tube blocked them and are threatening to sue them…Even though millions of users are pissed off, doesn’t seem to matter to the big corporates. They took the (YOU) out of you tube a long time ago…

  8. Avatar
    Shelbz

    It is October 27, 2016 and the site is still “under maintenance”. Our resources are scarce, I don’t think I will survive the winter. If anyone out there finds any hope, please help us.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      It looks completely functional (testing it from the US).

      • Avatar
        Rahul

        Is it legal to use mp4 to mp3 converter in USA, to download the audio files of youtube videos?

  9. Avatar
    Anonymous

    October 29th and its still under maintenance, not only that but pop up ads have become annoying. What has this lawsuit done to them?

  10. Avatar
    Anon

    What does it mean when it says in the website that google is “accusing us to threaten your security”…

  11. Avatar
    Isaac Greenstein

    OY VEY!!! PIRACY IS NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME YOU DAMN PIRATING NAZIS!!! WE’RE GOING TO STOP PIRACY EVEN IF IT MEANS DESTROYING THE INTERNET!!!!

  12. Avatar
    ManonimousX

    So many people in the music industry are giving they’re music for free, why can YT do the same, though…
    M
    X

  13. Avatar
    Dianna

    I use Allavsoft to batch download video, music, playlist to MP4, AVI, MP3

  14. Avatar
    ANON

    It’s totally illegaal and killing the music industry people should get hefty fines and jail sentences depending on the severity. People need to be educated on it.

    • Avatar
      The Truth

      and you should educate yourself. Creating a private copy of music for non-public playback is actually legal in a lot of countries. According to you you would have to also disable your cache in the browser because the ligth gray bar you see in youtube is actually stored ON YOUR PC wich makes yourself also to one of the people who shoudl get fined according to you.

  15. Avatar
    Les

    Essentially, whenever you play a YouTube video on your computer, you are indeed downloading the video itself. Therefore since it’s already on your computer. You can do whatever you damn well please with it, including converting it to mp3.

  16. Avatar
    yeah

    They scam us, we scam them. This is why piracy is so hated and big companies want it to dissapear so they can scam the shit out of us, but when piracy exist we pay only for stuff we want to. (: (i know that music is this way but here im speaking more toward the games/movie industry) Trailers are sooo goood and “take my money” but then…. the actual product in 90% of cases it’s crap.

  17. Avatar
    Pedro Johnson

    This article it incorrect – it is completely legal to record a stream for personal use (at least in the US). What is not legal is to DISTRIBUTE that stream. Copyright only covers distribution. You can record anything you want for personal use, but you can not upload it or more generally distribute it to others.

  18. Avatar
    manser

    it is confusing- many people in the world use these mp3 YouTube websites to download videos/mp3 but it seem all they do it put them on their ipods to listen to for themselves.

    they don’t go and sell these things, they only keep them for themselves and maybe have their friends listen to it as well.

    i just don’t know really where this copyright line is at.

  19. Avatar
    Peggo

    When it comes to youtube to mp3 converters, http://Peggo.tv is probably the the which is the most advanced and it’s really easy to use it. You can find online and Android version.

  20. Avatar
    Joseph Miller

    I read this article, beware of illegal methods to download youtube to mp3 downloaders. There are many ways to convert youtube videos so choose the best. Try https://mp3converter.live. It’s safe, free and legal to use.

  21. Avatar
    Martin Russell

    It’s not completely true. Some youtube downloader might be illegal but not all. There are many safe and secure youtube downloader and converter which are legal. You can try https://clipconverter.xyz. I use this tool, have never faced any legality problem.

  22. Avatar
    santos

    Not all youtube mp3 converters are safe and legal.
    In my concent, https://mp3juices.media is the best option as it has no click on adds and smooth download process.

  23. Avatar
    RobertWilson

    It is not illegal to download any youtube video the only youtube have no provided yet to download anything.
    so you have to use some different converter like https://tubidy.media/.Which they can help you download high-quality youtube video.Try it!.

  24. Avatar
    Hovengo

    YouTube-mp3.org was the best YouTube to MP3 site I had ever used. Its shut-down reminds me that I may need a desktop program like freemake or hd video converter factory.

  25. Avatar
    Jones Maxwell

    Most of the youtube mp3 converters get blocked by google or youtube due to their unproper functionality. I use https://greenmp3.live as it’s a legal and safe youtube mp3 converter.

  26. Avatar
    Charlotte Frazier

    I think it can not be said illegal to download or convert YouTube to MP3 for personal use, as long as i don’t download or convert it for any commercial purpose, right? Anyway, i always use Free HD Video Converter Factory to convert YouTube to MP3, of course only for the purpose of my personal offline playback.

  27. Avatar
    Self-Service Portal

    Official AVG Support | Help with PC, Mac, & Mobile Products

  28. Avatar
    David Jones

    When you watch cable tv, you pay a service fee to watch those channels on tv. When you get online with your PC, you pay a service provider a fee to get on the internet, so money is going out for these legal services! If you find a Doller Bill on the side of the highway and there is no ID along with it, do you need to report it? Of course not! So when you think of it that way, it should be the responsibility of the producers of the Music and Video cooperation’s to protect their copy-right material that’s being sold out to the public. If you loaned your CD’S, or your Video’s out to a friend, would that be a crime? Of course not, How about this, would it be a crime to sell your personal, professional, DVD movie’s or your music CD’S that you paid for to a buyer at a yard-sale? Of course not! Or is it illegal for a person to loan out his or her vehicle that has insurance on that vehicle to a friend that has a legal drivers license? Of course not! These industries make an outrageous amount of money for the sale of these professional DVD’S and CD’S that go out on the market to the public. Can they protect them? The answer to that question is, YES. They can protect them. Just try to make a copy of Nuance, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, speech recognition software. You will not be able to make a copy of it because it has a induvial code on the disk that makes it almost impossible to copy or crack. You would have to crack every disk to copy the disk! That would slow things down drastically! Taking this precaution would practically stop any form of illegal copies of any professional made video’s or music cd’s! They can apply the same coding system that NUANCE doe’s to protect their software! So what is the real problem? it’s greed. they don’t want to be out any extra money to protect their investments!

  29. Avatar
    Vint

    Hello, with the terms you offer, you are a welcome guest of any service. True, fraudsters are among them, and the main factor affecting trust is time. Here I have for example. Seven years ago I needed an operation. The operation is complex and no credit community or agency wanted me to lend to it. Then I turned to my relatives. They agreed to lend me the money, and having learned about my situation, they did not charge me anything at all. I always download music with this resource – https://youtubeemp3.org/

  30. Avatar
    [email protected]

    they gonna f*k make everything ILLEGAL
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    he4qpenjqywrt9prwshojt
    jwyrt
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    yrtjtuyysurtdkufjhku56erhjstrsjt
    ekr47yulio[p0oetjkw5j

    and then y can do not a thinfg anymoor on net.

  31. Avatar
    [email protected]

    and when
    wertyhjtdfg45ywqujghmdtjt43yqsjrtkghd,j
    t43yryteu6e5ub56ud56ue5ub5ue5udu
    db56u5dud5ubd56ubd56bu564

    busu56
    ueb5u56u5e6u5b56duibdj56xyrt
    w
    they then ra e finished makieing the net
    differetn they f**Ked everytrhing upo this
    way there is ntaqto no internet anymroe

  32. Avatar
    [email protected]

    i download every day a bucnh of mp4
    mp3 musicvideos from youtune b
    and it sound good.
    it says everywhere it is legal, so i download
    its mostly new music album

  33. Avatar
    SourceAPK.com

    In the past couple of days the converter hasn’t been working properly. The icon at the top right corner of the browser is still grey on youtube pages, claiming there are no videos on the page. kinda frustrating!!

  34. Avatar
    daveclark966

    Avdshare Audio Converter is a professional podcast to MP3 converter which supports to convert any podcast downloaded from Buzzsprout, Transistor, Podbean, or from any other podcast website to MP3 format for any audio application which supports MP3 format.

  35. Avatar
    Campos

    I’d also recommend Acethinker video downloader which I have used for many years. It is a cloud based software to convert Youtube video to mp3 without installing anything in your device. Free and works pretty well for me.

  36. Avatar
    daveclark966

    Allavsoft is very professional when downloading YouTube video to MP3 file and after the conversion, users can transfer the downloaded MP3 file to iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android and other MP3 compatible devices or media players for offline playback.

  37. Avatar
    AFALH

    so basically dont be in the U.S. while you convert your music and you’re in the clear.

  38. Avatar
    Jessica

    https://www.technoblink.com/ytmp3-cc/
    YtMp3 cc is the best YouTube to mp3 converter tool to download and change over YouTube videos to mp3 and is totally a free YouTube downloader. People are looking for the best applications to download YouTube videos and there are a few YouTube to mp3 converter tools on the internet that enables you to download videos from YouTube that are sufficient to try it out.