Sharing Links for Video and Audio Files Block Downloads by Default

Now Available in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business

Message Center Notification MC302489 (December 8) brings news of yet another tweak made by Microsoft to the dialog used to create new Sharing Links. The update means that the settings for sharing links for “most video and audio” files now block download by default (Figure 1).

A sharing link for a video file
Figure 1: A sharing link for a video file

Previous tweaks to the dialog include making it easier to update sharing link settings and highlighting the edit setting. Because many workloads use the sharing link dialog, the benefit of the changes ripple across Microsoft 365.

Understandable Change in Line with Previous Updates

The change is understandable. Sharing a video or audio is often just an invitation to consume final content (using the recently-upgraded web viewer) and you don’t want people to be able to download the files. By comparison, sharing a document, spreadsheet, or presentation is often for review and editing purposes, and the recipient might need to download a local copy to edit the file offline.

Interestingly, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 82193 makes explicit reference to Microsoft Stream, probably reflecting the ongoing motion to move Stream away from its old Azure-based platform to storing videos in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online. This transition has already happened for Teams meeting recordings, and the migration for other Stream content is in preview. Teams meeting recordings restrict download access to the recording owner, so setting sharing links to no download by default is in line with that philosophy.

Not All Video or Audio Files

Noting the caveat that the change applies to most video and audio files, I checked the content of my OneDrive for Business account and discovered that OneDrive blocks downloads in sharing links created for Teams meeting recordings. The same doesn’t happen for other MP4 files that I uploaded to OneDrive where the download control is missing when creating sharing links (Figure 2).

No way to block downloads in sharing links for these MP4 files
Figure 2: No way to block downloads in sharing links for these MP4 files

The BlockDownloadLinksFileType setting for my tenant (managed through PowerShell with the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet) is WebPreviewableFiles, which means that download blocks are available for all supported files. Given that audio and video files are now in the supported category, something else is going on.

OneDrive recognizes both sets of files as MP4s, so the difference in behavior might be because the uploaded files didn’t have the same PROGID tags as the Teams recordings (these tags make it possible to apply an auto-label retention policy to Teams meeting recordings). Alternatively, it could be because some background job hasn’t yet processed the other MP4 files. Requiring extended periods to process files is not unknown in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. In any case, I’ll keep an eye to see if things change.

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