Viacom gives in to YouTube privacy concerns
An update on the ongoing legal battle between media giant Viacom and video behemoth Youtube: Viacom has backed off on its demand for usernames and IP addresses of infringing Youtubers; well, some of them, anyway.
Viacom and other copyright holders have agreed to let YouTube mask user IDs and Internet addresses when Google's online video site hands over viewership records in a $US1 billion lawsuit accusing YouTube of enabling copyright infringement. A federal judge ordered the database produced in a July 1 ruling widely criticised by privacy activists.
"We remain committed to protecting your privacy and we'll continue to fight for your right to share and broadcast your work on YouTube," the company said in a blog posting late Monday disclosing the agreement.
Viacom is seeking at least $US1 billion in damages from Google, saying YouTube built its business by infringing copyrights on Viacom shows, which include Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon.
In addition, Viacom and the plaintiffs had originally demanded access to users' private videos, our search technology, and our video identification technology. Our lawyers strongly opposed each of those demands and the court sided with us.
Viacom's declaration Tuesday is an important step in its $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube parent Google because it should satisfy privacy advocates who might otherwise have created a PR nightmare for the media conglomerate.
Not included in the agreement, though, are names of YouTube and Google employees who watch Viacom content on YouTube. Viacom has so far retained rights to those names so that it might prove that it's reasonable to assume that Google should have known that its YouTube site was facilitating copyright infringement.
The lawsuit is expected to be in the discovery phase through the year, with a trial beginning as early as mid-2009.