You’ve purchased or rented a movie in Google Play Movies. Unfortunately, it’s a bummer you can’t keep it in your storage or SD Card (if you’re on Chromebook or Android). Be advised, though, this is not what they want you to know and do, so we put our disclaimer hat on: This post is for educational purposes, and we’re not condoning any law-breaking activities from reading this. When we’re on the same page, let’s get into this.
Today’s Streaming Technology
Paywalled movie sites are protected for the apparent reason. They want to keep the screening to themselves and the paid users. This is like movie theaters where you need to pay a ticket to watch the movies, and beyond that, say, sneaking your way into the movie, you are at risk of infringing their terms and condition and can be prosecuted by law.
Check on DevTools on your browser and inspect the video elements. You will find it’s in blob:address. It means they will load the video in chunks, and you need to stitch the video manually to get the whole video. Encryption technology also plays a part in obfuscating the blob address so it can’t be easily be decoded and joined. Chances you will also find the blob in a .m3u8 extension and has an expiration time and is trickier to stitch. Even if you have all the parameters to decrypt like cookies, session, you will still need to join them just in time before the blob is invalid.
How to Download Protected Videos?
There are simpler times when we can get the blatant video extension directly (.mp4) on the page. Be it YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook videos, all you need to do is open that link in a new window and right-click to save as. Now not the case anymore.
Luckily we have tricks left in our sleeves.
Online video downloader
Safefrom.net, Downvids.net, Y2mate.com, SuperParse.com, etc. I use them if I want a quick conversion without leaving my browser. They support many sites like Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit, TED, Tumblr, IMDB, and more. The downsides are interrupting ads, and for some places, you can only download up to 720p videos. This is the quickest way to download the video if you don’t mind the quality and not do it in bulk. You can save the downloaded videos to your SD card afterward.
Numerous extensions are available on the market, Video Downloader professional, Easy Video Downloader, and the like. Mostly they are free to use. The only downside is that you need to install it in your browser, and at times it occupies space in your page and slows down your browser. Another shortcoming for some sites, the download button won’t pop up even when it claims supported. Use this if you don’t want to leave your browser page to download.
VLC player and Downie (for Mac) I found the best tool in this field. Not only downloading the video, but also converting it to another format like .mov or .avi, and stamping the subtitles. If you are doing this often, buying the license is worth the price.
Command-line based tools
They have numerous options to download, convert, and post-process the video, like trimming and enlarging. I will use this if I need to download videos in bulk and need to edit them fast.
Capturing with screen recorder
It means you need to play the entire movie to save it. This is the least convenient way to download, but this is the most surefire way to go if you have no other choice. In Mac, you can open the screen recording tool with Shift+Command+5, pick your settings like audio and screen size and then let it sit, watch or leave it while it records. This way reminds me of the old-fashioned VHS recording.
In Windows, you can use the VLC player and recorder to record or use its built-in video screen capture called Game Bar.
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What is the Best Way to Download Protected Videos?
Using Downie works the best for me. When another solution fails (or is clunky with screen capture), it not only extracts from the best-secured video site I know but also lets you pick the available video quality. I tried with some online learning sites. You can try Udemy or Coursera.
However, this doesn’t come with no caveat. To download the video like the above picture, you can see extracted .m3u8 files, but all of them will fail. You need to play and wait until Downie gives you another .m3u8 video link. This is the actual video you can then download, but only you need to follow through, don’t go to another video, or it will fail too.
Try to keep the video and rewind back if it’s near the end and your download is not yet completed. In other words, after finding the legitimate .m3u8 link, the estimated download time must not exceed the remaining video timeline.
For Windows users, you can find alternative software. I am confident it works, too, similarly when downloading from Google Play Movies. This way arguably is slower, but it’s better than the screen video capturing method.
How to Save Videos to SD Card?
When videos are on your devices already, it’s easier to save to the SD Card. You can use Files by Google to move it, or if you are using Chromebook, you can click on Files , press and hold the file, drag it to ‘SD / Memory Card’ (on the left), and then release.
To get Google Play Movies video and move it to your SD Card, you need to extract the blob URL and join them. There are several ways, with a command-line tool is the most versatile but also the most labor involved, plus you need to understand the underlying process of authenticating and joining the blob files. With tools like Downie is the most convenient but also tricky because you need to get the timing right before the blob session is expired.