A couple of months ago I signed up for a paid online course. Their terms of service indicate that these video lectures are for streamed viewing and not to be downloaded. There's a 2 hour commute from my home to work and back. Recently I've been downloading these videos and watching a lecture a day during commute.

I've been using FlashGot add-on in FireFox with aria2 downloader installed in Ubuntu to download the video lectures. I've set the max-connection-per-server=1 option in aria2. My question is:

Will the web servers be able to detect my downloads?

1 Answer 1


It is not much known about this specific site and how it works. But from your description I will assume that they are streaming the video to a flash based video player while you watch.

In this case there will be a significantly different traffic pattern between online viewing a video and downloading a video: in the first case small segments of the video will be loaded (only what is watched within the next minute or so) and downloading all parts will take around as much time as the length of the video. In the second case instead the whole video will be downloaded at once within a time considerably shorter than the length of the video. Additionally the user agent of the downloading client might be different and it might also not send any cookies inside the HTTP request, probably contrary to the intended online viewing.

It is unclear if the providers of the online course will actually look at such details to find out downloads they consider illegal. But if they want to detect such downloads I'm pretty sure that they could achieve this.

  • They use HTML5 player. But you're right, it would be pretty easy for them to detect any downloader.
    – ml_nrd
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 13:26
  • 1
    True, but it could be possible to write a downloader that emulates the expected client behavior, albeit it would take much longer to download. Commented May 5, 2018 at 14:29
  • @multithr3at3d: sure with enough effort it can be done to emulate the behavior fully since the browser does no magic. But, this is not what the OP actually asked. And asking this would also be off-topic since it would mean to bypass existing restrictions for one's own gain. Commented May 5, 2018 at 15:44

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