collecting source materials: video/audio content

If you need to access a video or audio file and for reasons that fall under current fair-use exceptions, here are some tools you can use to access this content. However, a word of warning, many of these tools require trial and error, as well as some patience. There are lots of barriers in place to keep people from accessing copyrighted material even when they need to access this content for permitted reasons. Make sure you read through my copyright/fair-use disclaimer and educate yourself on these issues before you begin this process.

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Downloading Online Video/Audio Content for Offline Use

There are many different websites online that will grab content for you. There are also some useful browser extensions that can be installed into Firefox. Here are some options:

Highly Recommended – You provide the URL and KeepVid will help you download it. There are many websites like this, but KeepVid tends to generate more usable files and offers more options than many of the others. Two tips: 1) May not work with all web browsers. When in doubt, try it on Firefox. 2) Want a video or audio only version of the clip? Click on the “more options” link.

Similar to KeepVid. You provide the URL and Offliberty will help you access the media files for offline use.

Popular Browser Extensions

Video Download Helper
Useful extension for Firefox and Chrome. If you need to capture video from a random site with embedded/streaming video, this will sometimes work when sites like KeepVid won’t.

A Firefox add-on that allows you to retrieve files. If you need to capture video from a random site with embedded/streaming video, this will sometimes work when sites like KeepVid won’t.


  • There are also many other websites similar to Offliberty & KeepVid. If you run into problems, do a web search and try different options.
  • None of these options working? See recording video on your screen/console for situations when you can’t create a clip using the above tools.

Creating Media Clips from a DVD

If you need to access content that is only available on a DVD, there are different kinds of software you can use to create a clip. Not all of these will work on all computers. Also, remember the fair use information you were given above. Breaking the DRM on a DVD is only permissible in particular circumstances.

Highly Recommended – Most people seem to use/prefer HandBrake for making media clips. HandBrake will convert video from nearly any media format. The catch is, HandBrake works differently on PCs and Macs. It may also requires extra steps for you to use it with DVDs and may not work for everyone. This often has to do with how your computer is configured. If you try to use it and run into problems, I suggested following this tutorial on the Lifehacker website:

MacDVDRipper Pro
If you’re on a Mac and HandBrake isn’t working for you, this is a good backup option. The trial version of this tool comes with 5 free DVD conversions. If you’re thrifty, this is probably all you’ll need for a small project. If you think you need more, the program costs $25.

There are many other options out there. The Lifehacker website is a particularly useful resource for tutorials, tips, and reliable software. You may also want to do a web search and try different options.

Additional Tips/Useful Things

Do you need to make a smaller video clip from a large video file? Need to convert a video file to a different format? Need only the audio or video on a file?

Handbrake isn’t just for ripping DVDs. It can also be used to convert or downsize many types of video files.

MPEG Streamclip
This software is getting old and doesn’t work as well as it used to. However, it’s freeware and can be a useful option for converting files and/or making clips.

QuickTime Player
This is more for Mac users. QuickTime Player (typically installed on most Macs, sometimes on PCs) has a built in feature that allows you to easily trim video files and create smaller clips. Easy if your need to work quickly.

Use Your Video Editing Software
Need to cut up a large media file and make smaller clips out of it? Your video editor will do this for you. Many of them have a dedicated work area where you can make/store these clips. See creating/editing your own videos for more information on this type of software.

Having problems working with DVDs?

Remember, HandBrake is a fantastic tool and will convert video from nearly any media format. But! HandBrake requires extra steps to use with some DVDs. Follow this tutorial on the Lifehacker website for help with this:

Additionally, remember everyone’s computer is a bit different. If you run into problems, there are tons of resources and tutorials online. Do some web searches and try to find the solution that works best for you.