The easiest way -- and, if you're worried about copyright issues, the most assuredly legal way -- to download a YouTube video is to do it through YouTube itself. Realizing that many YouTube users want to take their viewing experience away from the site and have more ways to share with other people, YouTube is testing an option that gives video owners the ability to make their content downloadable. Using Creative Commons licensing, owners can offer videos for free or predetermined prices and allow viewers to purchase their videos. This helps creators get credit for their work no matter how people share the files [source: YouTube]. It's similar in nature to the music section of MySpace, which lets artists choose whether or not listeners can download their tracks for free, purchase tracks straight from the artist's profile page or simply listen off of the site. YouTube is currently beta testing this option with many universities, including Stanford; Duke; the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, but the option to download right off of the site will most likely become standard sometime in the near future.
Most versions of the RealPlayer software let you download YouTube videos straight from the page. If you have RealPlayer, you've probably noticed that any time you watch a YouTube video and move your mouse within the frame, a small bar pops up that says "Download This Video." This saves the video into your RealPlayer library and lets you organize it with your other saved videos, but you'll have to upgrade, and therefore pay, for versions that allow you to burn files onto DVD.
If you don't have any software that lets you rip the video from the site, Web sites such as KeepVid.com or SaveVid.com will let you do it. Once you've loaded the software, all you have to do is paste the video's URL into a bar and click "Download." When you do, you'll have the option of choosing a low-quality Flash video (.flv) or a higher-quality MP4 (.mp4). If you choose the Flash format, you'll need to convert the downloaded video into another format that's watchable on either QuickTime or Windows Media Player. If you run a Web search for FLV converter, you should come up with any number of acceptable programs. Choose the one that works best for your operating system, and then simply use the software to open up the Flash file and convert it into any popular video format -- the most common types are AVI, MPEG and WMV.
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