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A very common question we get asked at SproutVideo is pretty fundamental to the security of your online content: should I let people download my online hosted videos? Naturally the most appropriate answer is, “that depends,” but we can help you narrow it down for your specific circumstances, and ultimately make the best decision. Read on for our guide to allowing or disallowing downloads of your online videos, and how to do so securely.

How Do I Know if I Should Allow Downloads?

Ask yourself these key questions: do I need control over where this content is published, or how it is shared? Is source attribution for this video really important to me, my project, my brand, or my company? Am I charging for this video, or do I want to down the road? Is this video content suitable for anyone to view (clients, your grandmother, your boss, etc)? Is it embarrassing to me now, or is there a chance it might be in 3-5 years?

Those are the key considerations that determine whether or not it is appropriate to allow viewers to download your video. The reality is that there are no take-backs once someone has downloaded content. You cannot go in and remove it from their hard drives, and it can be very difficult to prevent them from sharing your content once they download it. Consequently, in a lot of situations, the answer is “no, I do not want people to download my videos,” so start from that assumption, and see if answering those key questions changes it.

Anyone Can Download My Videos

Depending on the type of video content you have, and what you want to achieve with it, it might be perfectly fine for your video to be broadly distributed across the internet without your full awareness or control. That is even preferable for certain types of video. For example, if you made a witty marketing video featuring your brand or a cool new product, you might want it to be shared as broadly as possible. A lot of light-hearted user-generated video is shared like this as well.

Only A Select Few People Can Download My Videos

Maybe you are collaborating on a project with a small group, have a video for internal purposes only, or want to share a video with only one particular client. Video files can be very large, especially for high definition video or longer films, and it may not be possible to send these files by email or even common file sharing applications like DropBox or (or at least not for free). In these instances, as well as others, it might make sense to restrict video downloading to a small group of people.

No One Can Download My Videos

If you are concerned about getting credit for your content, where your videos might be shared, plan to monetize them, or do not want certain people to view your videos, then definitely do not allow people to download them. As we mentioned before, once a video is downloaded, there are no take-backs, and you will lose control over that content. As a more secure alternative, you can use domain whitelisting to allow certain people to share your embedded videos without downloading them to their computer. Domain whitelisting allows you to control the websites that your embed codes will work on. For more details on domain whitelisting, please click here.

Controlling Your Video Downloads with SproutVideo

SproutVideo can help you control where your content shows up on the web by allowing you to set the download permissions for your videos. By default, downloads are not enabled for videos uploaded to SproutVideo’s hosting platform. For more details on how to set that up, please refer to this handy article, How can I allow people to download my videos?

You can also restrict downloads to different versions of the file – high definition, standard definition, or the source video file. Allowing HD downloads or source video file downloads are appropriate for situations where you want the video to be shared online, or if you are collaborating with a team of people or a client. SD video downloads are smaller file sizes, so it will be faster than the larger file sizes.

Do you have any questions or concerns about allowing people to download your online hosted videos? Ask us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!