Main | Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Viacom Will Know You
Watched "2 Girls, 1 Cup"

In a case that has privacy advocates outraged, a federal court has ordered Google to give Viacom the list of videos viewed by every YouTube visitor. Last year Viacom sued YouTube for over $1B, charging them with “massive intentional copyright infringement”.
A US judge has ordered Google to expose to Viacom the video-viewing habits of everyone who has ever used YouTube in a decision condemned by the Internet giant and privacy advocates.

US District Court Judge Louis Stanton backed Viacom's request for data on which YouTube users watch which videos on the website in order to support its case in a billion-dollar copyright lawsuit against Google. Viacom charges Google, which bought YouTube in 2006, acts as a willing accomplice to Internet users who put clips of Viacom's copyrighted television programs on the popular video-sharing website.

"We are disappointed the court granted Viacom's overreaching demand for viewing history," Google senior litigation counsel Catherine Lacavera told AFP in an email Thursday.

Stanton brushed aside privacy concerns on Tuesday while ordering Google to give Viacom log-in names of YouTube users and Internet protocol (IP) addresses identifying which computers they used for viewing videos. Stanton contends that Viacom needs more than pseudonyms and IP numbers that are tantamount to addresses on the Internet to identify individual YouTube users.

Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kurt Opsahl called the court's ruling a significant reversal to privacy rights. The judge's ruling ignores US federal law as well as a "fiasco" that resulted after America Online gave researchers what it thought was anonymous search data, Opsahl said. People's online searches can unintentionally divulge identities even without accompanying onscreen nicknames or IP addresses, according to Opsahl.
TechCrunch suggests that Google deliver the over 12 terabytes of user data in printed form.

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