Viacom doesn’t want to know what you watch on YouTube, so you can all relax. At least, that’s what an representative from the company told me Friday. The blog-o-sphere (us included) erupted over the past week after a judge ordered YouTube to hand over its user data to Viacom as part of its ongoing $1 billion copyright lawsuit. But Viacom says you have nothing to worry about… really.
From its perspective, Viacom says that it asked for as much data as it did because uniqueness is important to establishing the level of infringement. Evidently when it comes to copyright law, one person watching an illicit video twenty times is not as bad as twenty different people watching the same illicit video one time.
Any data Viacom receives will be classified as highly confidential, meaning that it cannot use this data for anything outside the scope of this case. According to the Viacom rep, the company is legally prohibited from trolling for potential future lawsuits against individual users.
Additionally, any YouTube data would be handed over to Viacom’s outside counsel and experts and Viacom employees could not touch it. That provided little comfort considering that the outside counsel is being paid by Viacom, but I was told that if someone breached this, they would be in contempt of court, which could mean jail time.
Finally, this may all be moot anyway as Google and Viacom are working on a system that would mask anything that might smack of identifiability. IP address numbers may be switched or altered on Google’s end so that it would be impossible for Viacom to track someone down.