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How to Download Movies

Learn how to legally download movies, many for free and in the public domain.


  • : Be sure you are only using this to download materials that you know are not subject to copyright.
  • Step 1: Check that your computer can download video files Make sure that your computer has the power and disk space needed to download large video files. Also check that your computer has compatible video viewer or player software pre-loaded.
  • Step 2: Learn about video file formats Learn about common video file formats, such as QuickTime, MPEG4, DivX, DV Video, Flash Video, Real Media, and Windows Media. If your browser does not recognize the format, download a compatible viewer or player.
  • TIP: Video file extensions include .avi, .ram, .mpg, .mov, and .wmv.
  • Step 3: Download file decompression software Download file decompression software. Double-click the file first – if the file extracts on its own, downloading decompression software isn’t necessary.
  • Step 4: Learn how to tell if a film is public domain Look for a copyright notice at the beginning or end of the film. Pre-1923 films are mostly public domain and films made between 1923 and 1949 typically have renewed copyrights.
  • TIP: Some films designated as public domain may have had a recent restoration or an added soundtrack, both covered by copyright.
  • Step 5: Check the Library of Congress Online Database Check the Library of Congress Online Database for copyright renewals on films made between 1950 and 1963. Films made from 1964 to the present typically have valid copyrights.
  • Step 6: Visit Visit, sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America, which provides an extensive list of legal movie download web sites.
  • FACT: According to the Guinness World Records 2009, Transformers holds the record as the most downloaded movie.

You Will Need

  • Internet access
  • Video viewer or player software
  • File decompression software

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