We are always saying this but it’s true. Data is expensive in Zimbabwe which is a little odd considering YouTube, one of the most data-intensive sites out there, has been consistently one of the most visited sites in the country. The clever ones have found ways to enjoy their YouTube clips without having to visit the site every time. They use YouTube rippers.
What’s a YouTube ripping site?
Using sites known as YouTube rippers results in massive data savings. Let’s say you and your friends enjoy a show like Comic Pastor’s monthly awards, Bus Stop TV’s regular skits or even Jah Prayzah. Instead of buying data to go on YouTube every time you want to watch:
- You just visit a ripper site like flvto.biz or 2conv.com.
- You paste the URL of the video you want in a provided field click convert or download and the video is saved to your device in your preferred format.
Now you can watch it as many times as you want on your phone or tablet. You can even share and send it via WhatsApp (remember most people are on WhatsApp only bundles in Zimbabwe) or even watch it on your DVD player. Put on a flash drive and share it with friends and so on.
There is just one problem. A lot of content creators, copyright holders and sometimes YouTube hates it when you do this. Some rightsholders even equate it to piracy, especially where music videos and movies are involved. YouTube makes money by showing ads alongside videos and creators, directly and indirectly, make more when they have more views on YouTube.
About three years ago music labels including Warner Bros and Sony decided to do something about it. They took the most popular stream-ripping sites to court for copyright infringement. In fact, over the years they have gone after stream-ripping sites and tools including the venerable YouTube-DL tool. Some of these sites including the aforementioned flvto.biz and 2conv.com have been making deals with the rightsholders.
A few of these sites are now making a deliberate attempt to stop you from ripping YouTube videos that feature popular known tracks. If you try to do so you get an error. That’s not in itself alarming. What is alarming is the news that some of these sites are now logging extensive data about you every time you visit them. If you inadvertently download a copyrighted video that data can be used against you.
Use Youtube-dl instead when you want to rip YouTube videos
As always nothing in the foregoing should be misconstrued as supporting piracy. It is always your responsibility to determine whether downloading a given YouTube video constitutes piracy. A lot of creators want their videos to be downloaded. I will just assume you have done your homework and really want to download a video without having your data logged by some third party or facing restrictions.
- Install YouTube-DL for your platform. There are so many ways to do this and for Windows users there is even a .exe file. Be mindful that this is a command line tool. That might make it intimidating but it also makes is very powerful.
- Open a browser and visit the video you want
- Copy the video from the browser
- Open a terminal and download the video using Youtube-Dl. You just type youtube-dl followed by various options and then the url of the video. All available options can be found here including explanations can be found here.
NB. If you are overwhelmed by the options you can try these quick commands instead:
- youtube-dl -f ‘bestvideo[ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/bestvideo+bestaudio’ –merge-output-format mp4 “link to youtube video” or
- youtube-dl -f ‘bestvideo[height<=1080]+bestaudio/best[height<=1080]’ “link to youtube video” or
- youtube-dl -f ‘best[filesize<50M]’ “link to youtube video”
Those square brackets are not optional, they are required. You can put the full link to the video. So for example let us say you want to download Alan Walker’s popular soundtrack Fade and want the best 1080p video you use the following link:
- youtube-dl -f ‘bestvideo[height<=1080]+bestaudio/best[height<=1080]’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM7SZ5SBzyY
YouTube-DL will handle the download process and join the best audio and video for you. You can even convert this into an MP3 if you want which can be useful if you want to use it in your own videos be it on YouTube, Instagram or wherever.
P.S Alan Walker’s Fade is free to download and use as much as you want. All NCS made songs are “free”. You can always support the artists by paying for the soundtrack if you want but you don’t have to.