Another day, another wrinkle in the ongoing Viacom v. YouTube legal soap opera. This time, Viacom has YouTube employees in its sights. To recap:
- First, a judge ordered YouTube to hand over its user viewing data to Viacom.
- Then YouTube said it was asking Viacom if it could strip out identifier information in the data.
- Then Viacom denied that it ever wanted the user information and said that it didn’t want any of that information anyways.
Now comes word from CNET that Viacom is seeking information about YouTube employees’ activities on the site.
At issue is whether or not YouTube employees uploaded or were aware of copyrighted works on its own site. If Chad Hurley, for example, uploaded a copyrighted clip, or knew of copyrighted works on the site, it’s possible YouTube could lose its protection under the DMCA.
This is a big deal, and the employee user information should be easier for Viacom to procure than general user data. If YouTube was smart in the early days, they had a bulldog lawyer who laid down official corporate policy that banned employees from surfing through the site. Sounds silly, I know, but at least they’d have had something on the books that forbade it.