Judge Orders YouTube to Give User Data to Viacom

If you wanted to keep your obsession with hyperactive YouTube phenomeon “Fred” a secret, you’re in for some bad news. A federal judge yesterday ordered that records of every video watched on YouTube be handed over to Viacom as part of its ongoing $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google.

According to the ruling:

The motion to compel production of 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 is granted.

In case you were wondering::

Defendants’ “Logging” database 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.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is up in arms over the ruling and has a breakdown of how this decision may actually violate federal law.

The court dismissed Google’s argument that handing over the data would violate its user’s privacy concerns, saying “But defendants cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, and their privacy concerns are speculative.”

Over at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington writes that there’s only one use for all this data Viacom is to receive: to sue individual users (or at least threaten to) who have watched copyrighted material on YouTube.

The ruling was made over Google’s objections, and hopefully Google will take all necessary action to challenge the order (or potentially face class action lawsuits).

But it wasn’t a total loss for Google yesterday. The judge ruled that the company did not have to hand over YouTube’s source code. The company can rest easy that no one else will build a YouTube clone.