The software youtube-dl resembles when I recorded TV programs on "linear TV" (a modern word not used at that time) on a VHS tape recorder. 

As the name hints, youtube-dl can be used to download videos from Youtube. It can also be used to download from very many other sites. It is used to download recorded media, not to copy streaming media (that the VHS tape recorder was used for).

Beside Youtube, I have tested it on the Swedish SVT Play and TV4 Play.

There has been some legal issues, whether the youtube-dl software is legal or not. For a period the youtube-dl repository was taken down from GitHub, but is now back. Not at least EFF (Electronics Frontier Foundation) has engaged in the legal discussions. Youtube-dl does not circumvent any digital lock. It was also discussed if youtube-dl infringe copyright. Ref ex GitHub Reinstates youtube-dl After RIAA’s Abuse of the DMCA

I think private use of youtube-dl is comparable to when I in earlier days recorded from radio or copied vinyl, CD etc to audio cassette tapes or to writable CDs, or copied video tapes from television to VHS tapes. As long as I download a video to use as a personal copy for my private non-commercial usage, it is acceptable.

In order to get youtube-dl to work fully, I also needed to install FFmpeg; "A complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video." An alternative should be avconv. Both hinted by youtube-dl itself when it cannot merge files. I have only used FFmpeg as a resource for youtube-dl.

Youtube-dl is a text based software, no graphical interface (no GUI). The commands are written in a terminal window.

Often, all I need is the very simple command:

youtube-dl [url]

When this command is executed, the download starts and the result will be a downloaded copy of the video.

Many command options exist, for example for subtitle options or login. Documentation is found via their website.

I have only used youtube-dl on Linux (Linux Mint), but can also be used on Windows and Mac OS.

Henrik Hemrin

4 October 2022