Pirating of DVDs and CDs is still quite common amongst Christians – at least in my experience. And I don’t like it. I’ve heard lots of excuses for this – “software is just so expensive”, or “music companies charge too much for their music”, but the law (and the Bible) is clear that piracy is a no-go zone. As Romans 13 explains, we are to submit ourselves to the governing authorities, regardless of how inconvenient this might be.

According to their website, there are two situations where you can download YouTube videos:


  1. when you are downloading a video from a designated YouTube partner.
  2. when you are downloading a video that you have previously uploaded.

YouTube explains that:

“Except for the cases mentioned above, the YouTube’s video player is designed to be used within your browser as an Internet experience.”


You can check out the full article on the YouTube website here. In addition, Section 5 of the YouTube terms of use explains:

“Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners.”

UPDATE – 11 APRIL 2012

“Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content.”

This isn’t convenient, but as the provider of this service, YouTube has the right to set the rules for how their service is used.

I thought I’d check out the CCLI (Christian Copyright) website to see what they had to say about churches using YouTube clips. The only article I could find was from 2008 entitled – ‘Playing it safe – internet content and copyright‘.

As far as I can tell, the long and the short of it is this – in most cases, it is not legal to download YouTube videos for church use, personal use, or any other use, apart from the two scenarios mentioned above. Similarly, I discovered that should you (for some reason) want to reproduce (e.g. quote) comments made against videos, this too is a breach of the terms of use.

Steve Fogg wrote in with the following comment:

“…it is actually illegal to play this kind of thing [YouTube videos] in a church service or public space unless you have written authorisation from the ORGINAL copywright holder

Which means if people who put together videos for youtube sample vision or sound from somewhere else you need their expressed written permission.

CCLI who give licence for music offer video licence for most major movies which gives you rights to play a clip for a sermon. Outside of this, if you don’t know created the video or don’t have their express permission as copyright holders it is breaking many interlectual property laws and could break a small churches bank totally as fines for this kinda things are massive.”

Thanks to Steve Fogg for the heads up on the legal implications of downloading YouTube videos – much appreciated Steve. My apologies for misleading anyone with my previous post (now removed to avoid any confusion) – let’s strive to submit to our authorities and stick to the terms of use required by YouTube.

All is not lost! Coming soon, I’ll share some helpful resources for finding videos to use at church. If you’d like to suggest any to get the  list started – comment away!

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