In a nutshell

  • While it’s possible to save videos to your Android’s camera roll in a number of ways, not all ways are legal
  • Before you download, make sure that you have permission from the license holder or are operating within the guidelines of Fair Use
    Downloading videos to your camera roll can end up hurting creators’ bottom line

The amount of content uploaded to YouTube each day is almost unbelievable — and incredibly difficult to track. Common stats across the web suggest that over 500 hours of content are added every minute of every day. There are a handful of reasons why you may want to know how to save YouTube videos to a camera roll on Android. Here, we’ll discuss when it’s legal versus illegal to download videos from YouTube. We’ll also go over the reasons why people might want to do this and provide instructions on how to do it correctly. 

Legally vs. illegally downloading YouTube videos

According to YouTube’s Terms of Service, you are not allowed to download videos from YouTube. It states that no one is permitted to download without explicit permission. Permission can only be granted by the real owner of the content. If YouTube has already proven that permission is granted, it can extend that to users.

That seems cut-and-dry, but there’s more to it. Some situations allow the use of the content without express permission from the owner. These do not violate copyrights. 

Under the Fair Use Act in the US (and similarly under laws in other countries), you can use copyrighted materials as long as the purpose of your use falls under certain categories. For example, you can use video clips from other creators in your educational or critique content. 

Additionally, Public Domain is a rule that allows anyone to use materials where copyrights no longer apply. This is when the copyright is expired, forfeited, waived or inapplicable. Creative Commons is another exception. It means the creator still owns the rights, but they granted permission for public use. 

If it doesn’t fit into one of the exceptions above, it is likely illegal to download the content without specific permission from the owner. 

What else do you need to know? 

With YouTube Premium, you’ll find that some videos have a download link. You can legally download YouTube videos this way because YouTube has already proven that it falls within the rules. When you download videos this way, you don’t get an editable file on your phone. This simply allows you to watch the videos offline via YouTube. 

When you run Google searches with questions about how to save YouTube videos to your camera roll on Android, many of the results may be ads for third-party apps promising to download any video. These are often illegal, and they operate with disregard for the legal aspects of content creation. The videos still need to qualify as legally downloadable under the guidelines above. 

Another thing to consider is that you are impacting the creator financially when you download their videos. If you’re not streaming, you’re not helping them rack up viewership counts. You’re also not seeing the ads, which harms the creator’s ad revenue.  

How to save YouTube videos to your camera roll on Android

If you’ve determined you can legally download videos from YouTube, follow these steps. This will allow you to download videos without using any questionable tactics. 

First …

  • Open the YouTube app
  • Find the video that you want to download
  • Under the title, find the icon option for download (usually to the right of the like/dislike)
  • An options box will appear to choose the quality (high, medium or low)
  • Make your selection and press OK — then wait for the download to complete

Next …

  • Go back into the YouTube App
  • Tap on your profile icon in the top right corner
  • Tap the link for Manage your Google Account
  • Choose the tab for Data and Privacy
  • Scroll down a bit until you find the section called Download or delete your data
  • Choose Download your data
  • Under Select data to download, click the link to Deselect all
  • Scroll to the end to select YouTube and YouTube Music
  • Tap the Next Step button
  • In the next screen, don’t change anything; just scroll down and click Create export
  • This process can take a few hours, depending on the files
  • You’ll receive an email when it’s ready

Then …

  • Open your email on your phone
  • Tap the first download button; this will create a zip file
  • Your Google Account will require you to confirm your password here
  • It will bring you to a screen where you can see that the file is in progress
  • Once it’s finished, go to your File Manager
  • Navigate into the Downloads and tap the ZIP file you’ve just created
  • A new box will appear; choose the option for Current path
  • This will complete the transition into your photo/video location

The recap

Now that you know how to save YouTube videos to a camera roll on Android, there are a few things to keep in mind. When you’re moving around within the creator community, either as a viewer or a creator, always be respectful of the fact that media is art. Respect that creators are making content as a business. Any related profits should belong to them, including the opportunity for ad revenue, streaming view counts and partnerships.

Only download videos from YouTube when you are sure that it’s permitted. That permission should be in the form of direct approval from the copyright owner or confirming that it meets legal criteria in your area.