Thursday, July 3, 2008

Judge Orders Your Youtube Viewing Records Released To Viacom

Yes, you read that title correctly.

From Wired:

Viacom filed suit against Google in March 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for allowing users to upload clips of Viacom's copyright material. Google argues that the law provides a safe harbor for online services so long as they comply with copyright takedown requests.

Although Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users' privacy, the judge's ruling (.pdf) described that argument as "speculative" and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives.

The judge also turned Google's own defense of its data retention policies -- that IP
addresses of computers aren't personally revealing in and of themselves
, against it to justify the log dump.

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The Logging database contains:

'...for each instance a video is watched, the unique “login ID” of the user who watched it, the time when the user started to watch the video, the internet protocol address other devices connected to the internet use to identify the user’s computer (“IP address”), and the identifier for the video.'
Google correctly argued that “the data should not be disclosed because of the users’ privacy concerns,” citing the VPPA, 18 U.S.C. § 2710. However, the Court dismissed this argument with no analysis, stating “defendants cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, and their privacy concerns are speculative.”
So you see, it's only speculative what they will do with your user data if you've ever watched a youtube.

But get this, Viacom had attempted to compel the source code for Google's Search, Google/Youtube Video and the Google Advertising Schema!

Here's the rundown on the whole list Viacom wanted and what the judge granted and denied:

(1) The cross-motion for a protective orderbarring disclosure of the source code for the search function is granted, and the motion to compel production of that search code is denied;

(2) The motion to compel production of the source code for the Video ID program is denied;

(3) The motion to compel production of all removed videos is granted;

(4) The motion to compel production of all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website is granted;

(5) The rnotion to compel production of those data fields which defendants have agreed to produce for works-in-suit, for all videos that have been posted to the YouTube website is denied;

(6) The motion to compel production of the schema for the Google Advertising database is denied;

(7) The motion to compel production of schema for the Google Video Content database is granted; and

(8) The motion to compel production of the private videos and data realted to them is denied at this time except to the extent it seeks production of specified non-content data about such videos

So ordered.
Dated: July 1, 2008New York, New York

Louis L. Stanton

A couple of interesting relational tidbits to go with this madness. Judge Stanton is an 81 year old Reagan appointee. He has been overturned on copyright cases, as well as others, notably in a case about a biography of L. Ron Hubbard.

Philippe Dauman's (current CEO of Viacom and it's general counsel for quite a few years) attitude about the suit can be viewed and read here. He's wrong on DRM, fair use, technology, net neutrality, you name it.

And last, the ever present connection to government power: Viacom's chief lobbyist is Wayne Berman, who also lobbies for AT&T, Chevron and The Carlyle Group among others. He is also a "Bush Ranger" having raised at least $200,000 for Bush's campaign. Berman's wife, Lea, is the White House Social secretary.

Figures, doesn't it?