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    Atomic Punk
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    Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

    Ever check out YouTube? Have a user name and password for it?
    Then Viacom's going to find out all about what you like to watch.

    A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the online video-sharing Web site, owned by Google, has to turn over all its user logs to Viacom, the mega-corporation that owns MTV, Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central and VH1, among others.

    Viacom sued Google last year, claiming that YouTube willfully infringed its copyrights by letting its users post clips from "South Park" and "The Daily Show" willy-nilly.

    YouTube, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, argues it doesn't have to take down those clips until Viacom complains about each and every one.

    Viacom says that's bunk, and is joined in its lawsuit by the Premier League of England's Football Association, which doesn't like pro soccer highlights turning up on YouTube.

    Judge Louis L. Stanton actually delivered a mixed ruling — he refused Viacom's demand that Google turn over YouTube's source code, the software that runs the site, agreeing with Google that that was a trade secret.

    But he used Google's own argument, explained here on Google's own site, that revealing users' Internet Protocol addresses — which identify every single computer, server, cell phone or toaster connected to the Internet — does not constitute an invasion of privacy.

    Google must now turn over all its data about YouTube visitors on four 1-terabyte hard drives, a staggering amount of data, as well as copies of all clips it has ever taken down. (One terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.)

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco organization that defends the rights of Internet users, quickly protested the ruling, saying it "threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users."

    Viacom wants the data to prove that copyrighted "stolen" material is more popular among YouTube visitors than original "user-generated" material.

    It sought the source code to show that YouTube does have software in place to filter out some objectionable content — for example, YouTube manages to keep pornography and explicit nudity off the site — but chooses to allow copyrighted material as part of its business model.

    There is no indication Viacom will seek to track down individual users. It would have to contact users' Internet service providers — for example, Time Warner Cable, Verizon or America Online — to do so, and it's not clear if the ISPs would be compelled to turn over the data, especially in a civil case.

    Google is likely to appeal the ruling.

    http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/200...orders-yo.html
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk WinterlessIceness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post

    Google must now turn over all its data about YouTube visitors on four 1-terabyte hard drives, a staggering amount of data, as well as copies of all clips it has ever taken down. (One terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.)
    One terabyte is 1024 gigabytes.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    YouTube, Viacom agree to mask viewer data

    In a nod to privacy complaints, Viacom Inc. won't be told the identities of individuals who watch video clips on the popular video-sharing site YouTube.


    Viacom and other copyright holders have agreed to let YouTube mask user IDs and Internet addresses when Google Inc.'s online video site hands over viewership records in a $1 billion lawsuit accusing YouTube of enabling copyright infringement. A federal judge ordered the database produced in a July 1 ruling widely criticized by privacy activists.

    "We remain committed to protecting your privacy and we'll continue to fight for your right to share and broadcast your work on YouTube," the company said in a blog posting late Monday disclosing the agreement.

    Viacom is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from Google, saying YouTube built its business by infringing copyrights on Viacom shows, which include Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants" cartoon.

    U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton had dismissed privacy concerns as speculative when he authorized full access to the YouTube viewer logs. Viacom and other plaintiffs argued that they need the data to show whether their copyright-protected videos are more heavily watched than amateur clips.

    The YouTube database includes information on when each video gets played. Attached to each entry is each viewer's unique login ID and the Internet Protocol, or IP, address for that viewer's computer — identifiers that, while seemingly anonymous, can often be traced to specific individuals, or at least their employers or hometowns.

    But lawyers for Viacom and the other plaintiffs signed an agreement with YouTube on Monday saying they would accept measures to help YouTube preserve the anonymity of the records. Under the agreement, YouTube can swap the user logins and IP addresses with other, presumably anonymous signifiers; YouTube has a week to propose its method.

    Viacom's lawsuit has been combined with a similar case filed by a British soccer league and other parties. Louis Solomon, a lawyer for those plaintiffs, said Google has long described records like IP address as "not private," and with the agreement, "we have managed to put to bed a non-issue." Viacom had no comment.

    The masked database will still have to let the plaintiffs determine which individual watched which clip and when, but the records will cloak cases in which an existing identifier contains personally identifiable information — such as first initial and full last name in a user ID.

    In limited circumstances, it may still be possible to track records to a specific individual based on that person's viewing habits. Time Warner Inc.'s AOL discovered that when it released to academic researchers some 19 million search requests made over three months. AOL substituted numeric IDs for the subscribers' real user names, yet the disclosure of what people had searched for produced enough clues to track down some of the users and identify them.

    "It's better than providing that information without that substitution, but I don't think it addresses the privacy concerns by a long shot," said Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

    For example, someone might be frequently viewing videos of themselves or the bands they are in. Even with anonymous identifiers, Seltzer said, that person can still be linked to other clips they watch.

    She said Google and YouTube ought to reconsider whether to even retain the data.

    The YouTube data would not be publicly released, but disclosed only to the plaintiffs, likely under a court-sanctioned confidentiality order. Viacom also has pledged not to use the data to identify individual users to sue.

    Still in dispute is whether YouTube would be able to make viewing records on its own employees anonymous as well. If a YouTube employee had viewed an episode of "The Daily Show," for instance, Viacom could argue that YouTube directly knew of copyright infringement. And that could dissolve the immunity protections that service providers generally have when they merely host content submitted by their users.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

 

 

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