Viacom’s Billion-Dollar YouTube Lawsuit Just Turned Ugly

Jul 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Streaming Video, Video, Video Podcasts, Vlogs

viacomViacom’s billion dollar lawsuit against Google is getting ugly. The federal court hearing the case has ordered (pdf) Google to provide Viacom with “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”.

The ruling brings a new twist to the case, and raises a lot of privacy issues.

It’s relevant to the case whether or not Google has built a business based primarily on copyright infringement. It’s not relevant to the case whether or not you have an unusual interest in philology.

At the core of Viacom’s complaint is Viacom’s belief that YouTube users spend most of their time watching pirated video:

“YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others’ creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws. In fact, YouTube’s strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.”

What people are watching is clearly important to Viacom’s case, but who is watching what isn’t.

The judge should have required Google to provided an anonymized version of the logs, where IP addresses and user information has been stripped out or replaced with anonymous user tokens.

This twist needlessly complicates the case, and is likely to work against Viacom.

Update: Good coverage of this ruling at Threat Level and EFF.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply