Downloading temporary offline copies of web videos with 4K Video Downloader

Up-front disclaimer: This post is being written to fulfill the terms of a promotion.

As an ESL teacher, I often show authentic videos in my classrooms. For example, recently, to complement a textbook unit whose theme was marketing and advertising, I showed an authentic video from YouTube in which a marketing consultant talked about the challenges which DVRs have introduced to television advertising.

However, I’m wary of trusting the reliability of video streaming websites. Buffers can freeze, connections can drop, and intrusive unskippable advertising can rob the class of 30 seconds or more. With those issues in mind, I prefer to download videos in advance rather than streaming them directly from the source website. Of course, this works most easily when the rights holder of the video provides a download feature and explicitly allows and encourages people to download copies for offline use. If I want to show my class a lecture from TED.com, for example, I can easily download it as an MP4 file for lag-free, bufferless, 100% reliable classroom viewing, because all TED talks are Creative Commons licensed for free distribution.

However, even when rights holders do not provide a download feature, it’s fair use to download a temporary copy of an authentic listening passage for classroom use. YouTube, the 800 pound gorilla of the online video world, does not offer an official downloading feature– presumably because many of the important rights holders of content on YouTube (such as music labels) forbid video downloads for commercial reasons. This is understandable, but the one-size-fits-all approach stymies educators’ fair use rights.

There are plenty of unofficial programs and web browser extensions which enable educators to download videos from YouTube, but my personal favorite is 4K Video Downloader by OpenMedia LLC. It’s a lightweight stand-alone application, which is great. By comparison, most other video downloader programs are installed as browser extensions– and I prefer not to weigh my web browser down with a bunch of extensions and plugins that aren’t needed 99% of the time.

Beyond the fact that it’s a quick, streamlined application, what I like about 4K Video Downloader is that once I’ve configured it to my desired settings (video resolution, output folder, etc), all I need to do is paste a YouTube link into the application to begin a download. From there, the program does its job quickly and reliably every time.

The advertising in the program is minimal, so I haven’t paid for the ad-free version. However, given the current free license promotion, I thought it would be worth it to say a few words about the program.