Google Ordered To Release Data On YouTube Users

By K.C. Jones

The owner of YouTube has to turn over user login IDs, records showing when users watched videos, their IP addresses, and numbers that identify the videos.

The judge hearing Viacom (VIAB)'s $1 billion copyright-infringement claim against Google has ordered its YouTube unit to provide user histories.

Google has to turn over millions of videos it has removed from the video-sharing site, user login IDs, records showing when users watched videos, their IP addresses, and numbers that identify the videos. The order applies not only to videos watched on YouTube but also to videos embedded on third-party Web sites.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) tried to argue that the request, for about 12 TB of data, was unduly burdensome, but U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton determined that it would be easy to copy. The search engine company also argued that Viacom’s request for the information threatened user privacy because it would disclose viewing and video uploading patterns and link them with login IDs and IP addresses. Stanton characterized those concerns as “speculative” and said Google failed to provide legal justification for that argument.

Stanton did decide in Google’s favor by turning down requests for proprietary information: indexes showing how Google organizes its videos and ads, as well as the source code for YouTube search, Google search, and the company’s new video ID program.

The judge also ruled in Google’s favor on two other points. He denied Viacom’s request for titles, keywords, comments, and flags for inappropriate content, saying that request was too broad. He also declared that private videos uploaded by a user sharing with one other user are protected under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Viacom sought the records to prove its claim that YouTube and Google encourage or promote copyright infringement by its users. The case is being heard in federal court in Manhattan.

Privacy advocates said that YouTube users’ privacy rights would be violated if the information is released.

Originating page:

Well YouTube had an unsolved copyrights issue since it was founded long before Google bought it… It could be long until the final arrangement is reached.

Anyway the privacy issue is worrying, what on Earth does the judge want the data for? I bet it’s just a bureaucratic requisition reflex, and they’re not going to analyze the whole of it.

That data goes to Viacom so you can bet they will analyze it trying to find each and every person they could to sue. Look at what the Music Association does. They sue little old grannies and kids under 9, so you can bet Viacom will try to sue anyone they can for copyright infringement. They will have everyone that viewed a video on Youtube, so if you just viewed a video there that infringes, that’s just as good as downloading, so you can bet they will sue. No joking. This is bad for all users of Youtube.

The article doesn’t say that, though I’m not saying it’s not going to be that way. Still it’s bad.

I can see the argument Viacom has for copyright infringement against YouTube. But, for them to get enough information to potentially sue everyone who has even just viewed something on YouTube is absurd. They would have to file a lawsuit on the entire world’s population. Would they also sue media outlets that would say on their newscasts “you can watch this on” Would they sue Bill Gates for providing the operating systems that people use to view YouTube? Why stop there? Sue the electric power utilities for making the electricity that allows the electrons to flow to the computers that are used to view YouTube.
I can see Viacom maybe shutting down YouTube, or severely limiting it. But, to potentially sue anyone who has visited the site (ever), lots of luck.


DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, I just have to play one in my employment.


It’s mentioned in other sources.

@grayhair: You are right that it is absurd, but I have no doubt that they will try. The MPAA and RIAA have really gone after a lot of people. You can expect Viacom (a member of the MPAA) to follow the same tactics and do the same things as in the past with all the Filesharing suites. This is why they wanted all the users information. They are not going through all this trouble to get the names just to see what people like to watch, no they are getting it so they can persecute, sue, and who knows what else, but definitely not a greeting card list. :stuck_out_tongue:

I see it that they will concentrate on you tube itself and “members of repute”. They can’t just go after any IP that ever visited the place. It would need far more than they will have access to to do that.

There’s loads of copyright material on there though, and Google video before that. It was a matter of time.