Viacom Won’t Make YouTube Share User Data


Update: Viacom has contacted us to dispute the genesis of the agreement, and we changed our story because their point seems to be valid. After reading YouTube’s blog post on the matter, we had originally described the document in question as an order handed down by the court. However, it was actually an agreement between the litigants following a court order.

Phew, you’re not going to get sued! At least not for watching Jon Stewart bits on YouTube. Viacom will not receive access to personally identifiable YouTube user data, a recent bone of contention in the massive copyright infringement case ongoing between the content company and the video-sharing site. The two companies agreed (PDF) Monday for YouTube to find a way within the next week to substitute a way to keep track of logs without them being associated with specific users, and that neither YouTube nor Viacom can later try to break this encryption scheme.

However, in keeping with what was uncovered by CNET over the weekend, the agreement includes a paragraph about employee viewer data. Viacom is reportedly seeking to uncover whether YouTube employees uploaded and viewed copyrighted content. The agreement also makes it seem that YouTube is demanding the same of Viacom as a reciprocal action. It says that YouTube and Viacom must at least discuss the issue within the next two weeks.

Looking to get caught up on this story? Here’s the background on the latest skirmish: First a federal judge ordered YouTube to hand over its 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. Then it came out that Viacom wants YouTube employee user information. And now this latest agreement (which is on the YouTube blog already, but not the dedicated YouTube litigation section on Viacom’s site).