Last modified on 12 November 2014, at 19:31

Commons:YouTube files

YouTube is a video hosting platform, considered the largest one in the world (see its Wikipedia article).


Most YouTube videos are not eligible for upload to Wikimedia Commons.

However, since June 2011, YouTube offers the option to license videos under the free license Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC-BY) which is compatible with Commons.[1] Under Commons policies, these videos may be transferred to Wikimedia Commons, with the usual caution that you should not upload work that appears to be plagiarized or is out of scope. Be also aware of YouTube's terms of service.

Some other videos don't use this license option, but include it:

  • in the video description (e.g. Wikipedia: Username, eligible for Commons and already here), or,
  • directly in the video (e.g. Blu - Muto, not eligible for Commons as CC BY-NC-ND).

Uploaded videos should be tagged with {{LicenseReview}} to request a license review to permanently document that the video really was available under that license. If they are released under CC-BY 3.0, you can add the license template {{Youtube}}.

Search videos licensed as Creative Commons on YouTube by visiting this YouTube link and replacing "SearchText" with a different search term.


Warning As of Jan. 2014, youtube offers only low quality files for download. (High quality video files are "dashed". [ en:Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP ])


In May 2010, Google introduced the free WebM video encoding format, and many videos from YouTube are available under this format. As of November 2012, Wikimedia Commons accepts WebM uploads. If videos are available in .webm format on YouTube, they may not need to be converted to a different format before uploading them to Commons. There are two different types of WebM formats - VP8 and the newer VP9 (available since June 2013). Some of youtube's higher resolution videos tend to be in VP9 formatted webm, and won't work on commons unless converted to the older VP8 type of webm.

Moving YouTube files to Commons with youtube2mediawiki Edit

Command line

If the YouTube video is available in the WebM format and you are comfortable with running Python scripts on your machine, one possibility is to use youtube2mediawiki:

  1. Download and install python 2.7
  2. Download youtube2mediawiki (e.g. as ZIP-file)
  3. Extract the archive and use the command line to start the python script.

Downloading videos from YouTubeEdit


youtube-dl tool or JDownloader;[2] both are also available as package in many GNU/Linux distributions, however note that JDownloader is partly proprietary.

Firefox bookmarkletEdit

A simple JavaScript bookmarklet will do the job in Firefox. Instructions can be found at github. You can then click on the bookmark anytime while watching a YouTube video. A list of download options will pop up in the top of the page.

Firefox extensionsEdit

A number of Firefox extensions are available, including BYTubeD – Bulk YouTube video Downloader.

Both BYTubeD (a Firefox extension) and JDownloader allow downloading all videos from a specific account (useful for large numbers of videos) and specific formats.

VLC media playerEdit

The following directions should work at least for a WebM version: Navigate to the desired video clip in your webbrowser. Copy the URL and open VLC media player and “Open Location from clipboard” (available from menu “Media” or via keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[V]). While the clip is playing or paused open “Codec Infomation” (available from “Tools” menu or via keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[J]). Mark the URL string shown after “Location” (e.g. via triple click) and copy it to the clipboard (via context menu entry or keyboard shortcut [Ctrl]+[C]). Then open the dialogue window “Open Network stream...” and insert the copied URL. Click the dropdown menu available through the button next to the “Play” button select “Convert”. In the appearing new window select “Dump raw input”, type in a name for the “Destination file” and press the “Start” button. Now a file should be written to disk. (Untested: If no WebM version is available [check for “VP8” and “Vorbis” in the mentioned “Codec infomation” dialogue] you might want to transcode by selecting “Convert” together with an appropriate “Profile” (e.g. “Video - VP80 + Vorbis (Webm)”) instead of “Dump raw input” in the last step.)


See how to cut a WebM video in few seconds.


Files not available in WebM have to be converted into WebM or Ogg Theora. See: Help:Converting video (e.g. the section on the ffmpeg2theora command line tool).

If a file from youtube uses VP9 video, but vorbis audio, it can be converted using ffmpeg (or avconv) using a command like:

avconv -i inputfile.webm -acodec copy -vcodec libvpx out.webm

Scripts to convert to Ogg Theora and upload to Commons are available:


For uploading large files to Commons, consider activating chunked uploads in your preferences, if your browser supports them (allowing file sizes up to 1000 MB as of 2014).

See alsoEdit

Related bugsEdit


  2. Note: As of November 2013, some YouTube videos cause problems with JDownloader and several other downloading solutions. In that case, try the beta version JDownloader 2 instead. No such problem is known with youtube-dl as of February 2014 (except with very old versions, see e.g. [1] [2]).

Get helpEdit

Ways to get help
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