Google to Reveal Youtube Viewing Details to Viacom

Now this is an interesting privacy related case to think about over the weekend, Google has to reveal viewing details for Youtube to Viacom.

Anyone who has EVER watched a Youtube video, that’s pretty extreme. Luckily most people are using dynamic IP addresses, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

Unless of course they decide to subpoena the ISPs for their logs too..then the ‘illegal viewers’ are in trouble.

Google was yesterday ordered to hand over the personal details of anyone who has ever watched a YouTube video.

The ruling – which has massive privacy implications for millions of internet users – was made as part of the search engine’s legal battle with content provider Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement.

Under the ruling, Google, which bought YouTube for $1.65 billion (£820 million) in 2006, must hand over to Viacom its viewing log – which includes users’ log-in information and their IP address, the code that identifies their computer.

It’s an interesting case however because YouTube is a public resource, who is to say what is on there is legal or not.

How are the users supposed to know? Say they view a video from a search, then view some related content which happens to copyrighted?

Is it the system that’s to blame or the user?

Although the case is being contested in the U.S., legal experts warned last night that the ruling would almost certainly apply to YouTube users worldwide, including those in the UK. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet freedom campaign group, described the judgment as a ‘ setback’ to online privacy rights.

Viacom, which owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, has alleged that YouTube has done ‘little or nothing’ to stem the flow of copyrighted material on its site.

The company said it had identified more than 150,000 unauthorised clips of its content that had been uploaded.

I’m pretty sure YouTube and Google are pretty strict about copyright content hosted on their services, but with user generated sites it’s so hard to control and it’s so hard to block.

Even if they md5 hash the ‘illegal’ files a user can just chop a few seconds off to change the hash and re-upload it.

Source: Daily Mail

Posted in: Legal Issues, Privacy

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13 Responses to Google to Reveal Youtube Viewing Details to Viacom

  1. d347hm4n July 11, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    This is going to catch alot of innocent viewers of guard then If they decide to prosecute them. Thankfully the volume of data is so great that they will find it difficult to pinpoint individuals that “VIEW” the copyrighted material.

    They will however go after the usernames that have uploaded copyrighted material.

    This will provide mearly as a precedent for future case’s in internet privacy, is this the begging of the end for anonimity online (not that there is any atm >.>)

  2. toddt July 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    I dont think that they will go after the viewers… I think that it is the people that are posting Copyrighted content that will feel the sole of Viacom’s Jackboots.

  3.'s all fake anyway July 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm #

    What if the logs got changed though, what if logs get handed over then changed – who’s going to do checks on those kinds of details, what can they do – say ‘hey before we hand these over, we’re going to hash them, then check your versions later’, especially when they (either/any party) can just hand over any old logs that have been ‘find & replaced’ that don’t even match the ones the ‘jackboot’ find-and-destroy are using……..

    don’t people realise yet what digital anything actually means.

    What if the judge just goes, ‘this is a pile of garbage that I can’t even detemine what part could be true or not, who the hell outside computer students or graduates even knows how IPs work, hell just the other day I found out my home network has the exact same address as my drinking buddies home network’

    The solution to all this is to get yourself another computer to act as a ‘honeytrap’ for joining botnets. Once you have successfully joined at least one botnet, do all your illegal content things using the sprawling massive untraceable botnet as some kind of maze of proxies, and remember – one day botnets will spawn electronic nanobugs who will build nanorouters, nanoswitches, and nanoservers within the transatlantic cable, which will in turn form wireless aether connections to orbiting satellites and specialised buoys above.

    None of this will matter anyway once it becomes as easy to copy/move/send/build atomic/molecular structures as it is with digital data, cause you won’t need money when you can just rearrange any equivalent-mass molecules to those of a specified cake.

  4. Navin July 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Does the ruling mean tht Viacom will have access to not only my IP but my username and password as well?? Atleats tht’s wht it seems….

    And I don’t get it…..why target the viewers?? Isn’t it the video posters who are to be held??

    Does this mean tht even if I used Youtube to view a video of my cousin’s first baby take her first steps, then I’ve ended up giving my password to Viacom??

    I just hope the same thing tht happened with AOL doesn’t happen this time as well (except this will be in a age tht people claim are the most expressive)

  5. d347hm4n July 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    @ Navin, the way ut us worded it would make it appear that they are ><, not good :(

  6. pixelm July 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    D3 and Navin- in order to get to viewers with IP addresses, another judge has to rule that an ISP needs to give up that information. Viacom hasn’t asked for it and it’s highly unlikely they would get it.

    But Viacom has also said that the information could be anonymized adding another level between users and the information to be disclosed.

    The point is that Viacom can only use the information they get to prove copyright infringement against YouTube. Users do not need to be concerned that anyone (other than Google) will know what they were watching.

  7. razta July 13, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    It does state above that Google will be handing over user usernames and passwords, unless the information above is incorrect, users should still be concerned. As for Viacom knowing what ive watched, I couldnt care less, unless they were planning on using that information for their own financial gain. The only thing im concerned about is my personal password being passed to god knows who over at Viacom, copied by god knows who and then distributed or sold to god knows who.

  8. Creeker July 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    It doesn’t assert anything about passwords above – people are just asking questions.

    Just check out the coverage about this, and you can find the judge’s order. Just the IP address, username, video name and timestamp were ordered to be turned over. Looks like they’re close to reaching a deal, anyway – here’s the current state of play, as far as I can tell:

  9. razta July 13, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    The above may be incorrect or I may be misunderstanding it.

    “must hand over to Viacom its viewing log – which includes users

  10. Creeker July 13, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    Log-in “information” up there is unnecessarily vague. According to the order, it’s log-in “name”. I couldn’t tell you why the quoted passage reads the way it does, though. I think we’re just fine.

  11. Changlinn July 14, 2008 at 2:35 am #

    I was searching for something else and clicked on what I thought I was looking for only to see Home and Away (a horrid Australian Drama). I read the comments thinking it was mind blowing someone thought this show was worth the trouble of recording, let alone uploading and sharing to youtube.
    Then I went on my merry way looking for what I was actually looking for. I think this is the only time I have actually used it to view copyright material, please don’t tell me I will be going to court for that… I wouldn’t be able to hold a straight face.
    The other stuff they will see me look at is stuff I have posted, movies of my kids etc, so yeah sue me.
    I don’t understand how google can even keep logs for longer than a couple days, I read somewhere every minute 17minutes of footage is uploaded to youtube… how is that even possible to be logged, why is that even logged, who the hell goes through these logs…
    Heh hear is a though, google being the nice netizens that they are offer to just ftp it to Viacomms servers, thereby DOS’sing them out of existence.

  12. DaCapn July 14, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    150,000 clips out of how many on YouTube? How much could we estimate that as? 0.01%? With such a small fraction of the videos in violation, how many irrelevant data entries will they get?

    If you know what the clips are, tell them, they’ll take them down. They take down copy written material all the time. If they want logs, let them ask for logs on the clips they mentioned. I’d still tell them where to stick it, but it would be a more reasonable request.

    Also, since they could only be catching people on a streaming mechanism (receiving content only), how much will each case be liable for in the first place? $30? They can’t very well make the case that they do with P2P that your download perpetuates downloads. They can obviously attempt to catch uploaders but this seems to target viewers.

    Can we assume they’re referring to YouTube and not Google logins?

    Follow-up thought, I’m willing to bet that they’ll be interested in mining these IPs against data for P2P traffic.

  13. Navin July 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    Exactly my thought DaCapn……..

    It isn’t about only this ruling….its the fact that even a company like Google is being targeted in the so-called war against piracy….for all you know, these ip’s may be labeled as “illegal ip’s” (coz there’s proof available wid Viacom), and if these ips are perhaps sold to some major isp, it may decide to ban all these ip’s labeling them as illegal users….and even guys like Changlinn may come under fire for their net usage…..infact if I remember right, there was a discussion in the UK or Australian parliament regarding ways to curb illegally uploaded videos and they had suggested something like this……

    collect user data from popular video-sharing websites( they even suggested something like encoding these illegally embedded video pages wid some sort of code tht wud log the viewer’s ip) ….Obviously, everyone soon dropped the idea wen they came to their senses!!