Viacom wins right to sift through YouTube user data, all four terabytes of it

Web 2.0

viacomyoutube.gifIn the long running battle between Viacom and Google over YouTube hosting copyrighted videos, Viacom has now won a ruling to allow it to access a complete set of video viewing records, totalling some four terabytes of data.

Google argues that the data, which lists every IP address and the videos watched, would infringe on its users’ privacy. The judge used Google’s own argument — that IP addresses don’t personally identify an individual — to throw out that objection.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that the ruling “threatens to expose deeply private information” — Google has also been forced to share details about private videos, and copies of all videos it has taken down, though it has been spared having to share YouTube’s source code.

Given that Viacom has already (allegedly) screwed up the identification of videos it owns the copyright to, I’m not wholly convinced it will look after Google’s data. Is the company planning to “do a BPI” and try to identify users who have watched copyright videos?

It seems likely that rulings such as these are only set to increase over time, as old media companies that really don’t get Web 2.0 use heavy-handed tactics to try and protect their content.

The fact is, they’ll never totally eradicate the sharing of videos and music online. They’d be far better embracing the trend (as the BBC does) than fighting it, but try telling them that. Perhaps they really do want to destroy the Internet.


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Andy Merrett
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