This article's lead section may be too short to adequately summarize the key points. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of all important aspects of the article. (February 2024)

Original author(s)Ricardo García Gonzalez
Initial releaseAugust 8, 2006; 17 years ago (2006-08-08)
Stable release
2021.12.17[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 17 December 2021; 2 years ago (17 December 2021)
Written inPython
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux
TypeStream recorder

youtube-dl is a free and open source software tool for downloading video and audio from YouTube[2] and over 1,000 other video hosting websites.[3] It is released under the Unlicense software license.[4]

As of September 2021, youtube-dl is one of the most starred projects on GitHub, with over 100,000 stars.[5] According to, 308 other packages and 1.43k repositories depend on it.[6] Numerous forks exist of the project.


youtube-dl was created in 2006 by Ricardo Garcia.[7] Initially, only YouTube was supported, but as the project grew, it began supporting other video sharing websites.[8]

Ricardo Garcia stepped down as maintainer in 2011 and was replaced by Philipp Hagemeister,[9] who later stepped down and was replaced by dstftw.[10] In 2021, dstftw stepped down and was replaced by dirkf.[11]

In 2021, some community members released a fork of youtube-dl, named youtube-dlc (for "community"). By January 2021, the effort was continuing as yt-dlp.[12] yt-dlp was included in Ubuntu as of the 22.04 release.[13] youtube-dl was removed from Debian 12.0 and Ubuntu 23.10 due to stagnant development and replaced with an empty package depending on yt-dlp.[14][15]

In August 2023, German company Uberspace took down a web domain which they hosted at their premises for the original youtube-dl project, citing a regional German court order issued from Landgericht, Hamburg which appeared to ban the mere hosting of information and GitHub developer links related to the cracking of (non-cryptographic) "rolling ciphers."[16] The GitHub subdomain webpage remains in place.

RIAA takedown request

On October 23, 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a takedown notice to GitHub under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), requesting the removal of youtube-dl and 17 public forks of the project. The RIAA request argued that youtube-dl violates the Section 1201 anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, and provisions of German copyright law, since it circumvents a "rolling cipher" used by YouTube to generate the URL for the video file itself (which the RIAA has considered to be an effective technical protection measure, since it is "intended to inhibit direct access to the underlying YouTube video files, thereby preventing or inhibiting the downloading, copying, or distribution of the video files"),[17][18][19] and that its documentation expressly encouraged its use with copyrighted media by listing music videos by RIAA-represented artists as examples. GitHub initially complied with the request.[20][5][21]

Users criticized the takedown, noting the legitimate uses for the application, including downloading video content released under open licensing schemes or to create derivative works falling under fair use (such as for archival and news reporting purposes).[22][5][23] Public attention to the takedown resulted in a Streisand effect reminiscent to that of the DeCSS takedown. Users reposted the software's source code across the internet in multiple formats. For example, users posted images on Twitter containing the whole youtube-dl source code encoded in different colors on each pixel.[24] GitHub users also filed pull requests to GitHub's own repository of DMCA takedown notices that included youtube-dl source code.[24][25]

On November 16, 2020, the repository was reinstated, after the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent GitHub a letter cautioning that its removal might set a precedent for other copyright holders to misuse the notice-and-takedown process to remove software tools from the Internet-based only on the argument that those tools could be used for copyright infringement.[26] Furthermore, the EFF letter asserted that the software was not operating as a "circumvention device", breaching DRM on the video stream, as the stream itself was not encrypted.[26] GitHub also announced that future takedown claims under Section 1201 would be manually scrutinized on a case-by-case basis by legal and technical experts.[27][28]

Example code

For downloading video or playlist:

youtube-dl <url>

Path of the output can be specified as: (file name to be included in the path)

youtube-dl -o <path> <url>

To see list of all available file formats and sizes:

youtube-dl -F <url>

The video can be downloaded by selecting the format code from the list or typing the format manually:

youtube-dl -f <format/code> <url>

Best quality video can be downloaded with -f best option. Also, the quality of audio and video streams can be specified separately and merged with the + operator.[29]

A portion of the video can be downloaded with the help of ffmpeg.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "Release youtube-dl 2021.12.17".
  2. ^ "Debian -- Details of package youtube-dl in sid". Archived from the original on 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  3. ^ "Supported sites". youtube-dl's GitHub Pages site. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Unlicense". Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  5. ^ a b c Cimpanu, Catalin. "RIAA blitz takes down 18 GitHub projects used for downloading YouTube videos". ZDNet. Archived from the original on 2020-10-24. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  6. ^ "youtube_dl on Pypi". Archived from the original on 2020-10-23. Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  7. ^ Garcia, Ricardo (August 8, 2006). "Release 2006.08.08". Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2006-08-12. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Supported sites". youtube-dl. GitHub. 2019. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Garcia, Ricardo. "It's very nice to see a project I started reach the front page of HN". Hacker News. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Move myself to inactive". GitHub. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  11. ^ "Under new management · Issue #30568 · ytdl-org/youtube-dl". GitHub. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  12. ^ yt-dlp/yt-dlp, yt-dlp, 2021-01-16, retrieved 2024-03-11, Allow the configuration files to be named yt-dlp instead of youtube-dlc.
  13. ^ "UbuntuUpdates - Package Search (all versions of yt-dlp)". Retrieved 2023-04-06.
  14. ^ "Debian -- Details of package youtube-dl in bookworm". Retrieved 2024-05-14.
  15. ^ "Ubuntu – Details of package youtube-dl in mantic". Retrieved 2024-05-14.
  16. ^ "Youtube-dl Site Goes Offline as Hosting Provider Enforces Court-Ordered Ban". Retrieved 2023-08-09.
  17. ^ Plaugic, Lizzie (2016-09-27). "Record labels sue popular YouTube audio-ripping site". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  18. ^ Masnick, Mike (28 September 2016). "Can Someone Explain To The RIAA That SOPA Didn't Actually Pass?". Techdirt. Archived from the original on 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  19. ^ "RIAA Delists YouTube Rippers From Google Using Rare Anti-Circumvention Notices". TorrentFreak. 2019-11-09. Archived from the original on 2020-03-29. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  20. ^ "dmca/ at master · github/dmca". GitHub. 2020-10-23. Archived from the original on 2020-10-24. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  21. ^ Cushing, Tim (2020-10-26). "RIAA Tosses Bogus Claim At Github To Get Video Downloading Software Removed". Techdirt. Archived from the original on 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  22. ^ Cox, Kate (2020-10-26). "GitHub boots popular YouTube download tool after RIAA claim". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  23. ^ Higgins, Parker (2020-10-26). "Music industry forces widely used journalist tool offline". Freedom of the Press Foundation. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  24. ^ a b "RIAA's YouTube-DL Takedown Ticks Off Developers and GitHub's CEO". Torrentfreak. Archived from the original on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  25. ^ Mehta, Ivan (2020-10-27). "GitHub took down popular YouTube downloader — so devs made more copies". The Next Web. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  26. ^ a b Harmon, Elliot; Stoltz, Mitch (17 November 2020). "GitHub Reinstates youtube-dl After RIAA's Abuse of the DMCA". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  27. ^ Vollmer, Abby (November 16, 2020). "Standing up for developers: youtube-dl is back". The GitHub Blog. GitHub, Inc. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  28. ^ "GitHub revamps copyright takedown policy after restoring YouTube-dl". Engadget. 16 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  29. ^ "". GitHub. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  30. ^ "linux - How to download portion of video with youtube-dl command?". Unix & Linux Stack Exchange.