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Summary:

Viacom has issued a statement about the recent court ruling that ordered YouTube to hand over its user data to the media giant. The full text is reprinted below, but here’s the quick translation: “No we didn’t, and everyone should stop being mean to us.” A […]

Viacom has issued a statement about the recent court ruling that ordered YouTube to hand over its user data to the media giant. The full text is reprinted below, but here’s the quick translation: “No we didn’t, and everyone should stop being mean to us.”

A recent discovery order by the Federal Court hearing the case of Viacom v. YouTube has triggered concern about what information will be disclosed by Google and YouTube and how it will be used. Viacom has not asked for and will not be obtaining any personally identifiable information of any YouTube user. The personally identifiable information that YouTube collects from its users will be stripped from the data before it is transferred to Viacom. Viacom will use the data exclusively for the purpose of proving our case against You Tube and Google.

Viacom has been in discussions with Google to develop a framework to share this data. We are committed to a process that will not only comply with the Court’s confidentiality order, but that will also meet our commitment to the strongest possible internet privacy protections.

It is unfortunate that we have been compelled to go to court to protect Viacom’s rights and the rights of the artists who work with and depend on us. YouTube and Google have put us in this position by continuing to defend their illegal and irresponsible conduct and by profiting from copyright infringement, when they could be implementing the safe and legal user generated content experience they promise.

Uhhh…who does Viacom think it’s kidding?

Groklaw does a great job of thoroughly debunking this statement, ripping it apart piece by piece. All one has to do is check the court documents. As we noted last week, Viacom asked for all the data in the logging database, which 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.”

Viacom asked for even more than this, but was denied.

In a corporate blog post last week, YouTube said it asked that it be allowed to remove personally identifiable information for the data it handed over. So Viacom did ask for the information, but the backlash it got forced it to reconsider.

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  1. Hey Chris.

    When the judge decided this order, the information you’ve mentioned – IP addresses and usernames – was never to be viewed by Viacom. For a year, Google and Viacom have been working under a mutually agreed upon confidentiality order that has specific rules around different types of data. The log in question was “highly classified” information, and restricted to outside counsel and outside experts to provide aggregate analytics for Viacom. We were never going to use IP addresses or usernames to find anyone, Viacom employees were never going to see IP addresses and user names from this data, and from the time of the order, we were working to figure out how to anonymize the logs.

    But, fundamentally, the court doesn’t consider an IP address personally identifiable data. Google has argued the exact same thing.

    The reason the request was constructed the way it was is because that’s how YouTube maintains its data. If there was a more direct way to get a reliable “unique views” figure, we would have asked for it.

    -Jeremy
    Viacom

  2. Viacom Denies It Wants YouTube Data – GigaOM Thursday, July 10, 2008

    [...] has swept the planet (or planet blog at least), there is a bunch of news involving YouTube. First – Viacom today issued a statement about recent court ruling that ordered YouTube to hand over its user data to the media giant. [...]

  3. lol, okay Viacom. Whatever you say.

    This whole thing is just hilarious, I don’t even know where to start.

  4. Viacom wil niets van u weten. | zoomz – Alles over internetvideo vanuit een zakelijk perspectief Friday, July 11, 2008

    [...] zegt, zoals uitgebreid te lezen valt op Groklaw. De tweede stelling is wat lastiger te beoordelen. Volgens een woordvoerder van Viacom bestond er altijd al een afspraak met YouTube dat er alleen geanonimiseerde gegevens zouden worden [...]

  5. Viacom, YouTube, & You: agreement to mask user data Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    [...] user data to Viacom. Then Google asked to have user identifying information stripped out. Viacom denied it ever asked for that data (it did) and then said it didn’t want user information after all. [...]

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