Why are video downloader add-ons so popular?

Chris Peterson cpeterson at mozilla.com
Tue Jun 9 07:34:03 UTC 2015

Firefox users like to download videos. A lot. 15 of the top 40 add-ons 
downloaded this week are video downloaders [1]. With so many downloader 
add-ons, users clearly have a use case that Firefox itself is not 
meeting.. and yet, these downloader add-ons must be pretty lousy if 
there are so many copycat add-ons and no clear winner. Some non-AMO 
downloaders include adware or malware.

Could Mozilla implement this popular feature in Firefox itself? As Flash 
video is replaced by HTML5 video, the browser has direct access to the 
video streams. Unfortunately, YouTube's Terms of Service [2] say:

"You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or 
similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You 
shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, 
sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes 
without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors 
of the Content."

Why do users want to download videos? Some likely reasons:

- to watch videos offline later (time shifting)
- to watch a video locally to avoid streaming/buffering problems
- to archive their favorite videos

If Mozilla can't implement video downloading in Firefox, maybe we can 
address some of the use cases that lead users to want to download 
videos. To address the streaming/buffering problems, we could make our 
buffering heuristics more conservative or add a "Buffer Entire Video" 
content menu item. To address the time shifting use case, maybe we could 
implement offline video caching (in such a way that Firefox is caching 
raw video segments, not saving to an MP4 file).


[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/extensions/?sort=popular
[2] https://www.youtube.com/static?template=terms

Video DownloadHelper
Flash Video Downloader - YouTube HD Download [4K]
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Ant Video Downloader
1-Click YouTube Video Download
YouTube Video and Audio Downloader
Download Flash and Video
Easy Youtube Video Downloader Express
YouTube Video Downloader For Context Menu
FlashGot Mass Downloader
YouTube mp3
Video Downloader professional
Youtube Downloader 4K - Video Downloader

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