Google Sells You Out To Avoid Paying Viacom

Google has been ordered to turn over their logs of user activity on their YouTube site to Viacom. Viacom is suing Google over copyright infringement, and wishes to see how many YouTube users actually look at Viacom copyrighted material on the video service, then compare it to the amount of traffic any given non-copyrighted video might garner, in order to prove that Google is making money off Viacom's Intellectual Property, and assess potential damages. As you might expect, privacy mavens are up in arms over a judge ordering that usernames, IP addresses and logs of videos viewed for everyone who's ever logged onto YouTube.

When it initiated legal action in March 2007 the firm {Viacom]said it had identified about 160,000 unauthorised clips of its programmes on the website, which had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Following the launch of its billion-dollar lawsuit, YouTube introduced filtering tools in an effort to prevent copyright materials from appearing on the site.

The US court declined Viacom's request that Google be forced to hand over the source code of YouTube, saying it was a "trade secret" that should not be disclosed.

But it said privacy concerns expressed by Google about handing over the log were "speculative".

The ruling will see the viewing habits of millions of YouTube users given to Viacom, totalling more than 12 terabytes of data.

Everyone's mad at Viacom, and the judge; but Google is collecting information about users to make money off of it. Viacom has legal standing to sue and get some of that money. Google risked infringing on your privacy by not coming to terms with Viacom, because Google risks the revelation of all sorts of information during discovery when litigating copyright infringement. There's a great deal of vitriolic comment already on the web about this, including tin-foil hat worries that Viacom could identify you and would sue you for watching copyrighted material on YouTube. That's not going to happen. I'm not so sure about people who uploaded copyrighted material to YouTube, though. Better get a lawyer on speeddial while Google appeals this.
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