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:

  • KeepVid Highly Recommended
    Tends to generate more usable files than Offliberty. May not work with all web browsers. When in doubt, try it on Firefox.
  • Offliberty– You provide the URL and Offliberty will help you access the media files for offline use.
  • Popular Browser Extensions
  • Tips:
    • HD Videos on YouTube (The Magic of “&fmt=18”)
      If you’re having problems with the file quality you’re getting from YouTube. Try adding “&fmt=18” to the end of the URL when you enter it into OffLiberty. This will often link you to the HD version of the file (if one exists).
    • There are also many other websites similar to Offliberty & KeepVid. You’re welcome to do a web search and try different options.
    • See So you want to record video of your screen… 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. Remember the fair use information you were given above. Breaking the DRM on a DVD is only permissible in particular circumstances.

  • Handbreak Highly Recommended – Most people seem to use/prefer Handbreak for making media clips. Handbreak will convert video from nearly any media format. The catch is, Handbreak 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 want to use it, I suggested following this tutorial on the Lifehacker website:
  • MacDVDRipper Pro
    If you’re on a Mac and Handbreak isn’t working for you, this might be your best 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’re also welcome 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?
    MPEG Streamclip ( is freeware and available at It’s a very useful option for doing all of these things.
  • Having problems working with DVDs?
    Remember, Handbreak ( is a fantastic tool and will convert video from nearly any media format. But! Handbreak 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.