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Wants to prove more people watch The Daily Show than homemade cat videos

As part of its $1 billion lawsuit against user-video site YouTube, Viacom will receive a complete log of all users’ activities, which will include a list of usernames, IP addresses, and videos that each account has viewed in the past.

Viacom says it wants to use the data to prove that copyright-infringing videos draw higher amounts of traffic than user-generated and fully-legal content. If Viacom’s hypothesis turns out to be true, it could increase penalties against YouTube if found liable for contributory copyright infringement.

The court order to turn over site logs came as part of a sweeping request by Viacom, where it attempted to acquire source code for the site’s search engine and copyright video filter – which YouTube wrote as the result of previous litigation with copyright holders – as well as copies of YouTube parent Google’s advertisement database schema, and copies of all videos on the site marked “private.” U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, who is presiding over the case in New York, struck down Viacom’s other requests.

YouTube will, however, also have to produce information on how private videos are viewed, including information on who watched them and how many times.

Google argued that revealing site logs – 12 terabytes in total and the sole source of information for video view counts – would constitute a massive breach of user privacy and place an undue burden on the company, who would need to vet the data for relevant information. Stanton called these claims “speculative,” and in denying them noted that site logs could be copied onto a handful of “over-the-shelf four-terabyte hard drives.”  He agreed with Google, however, in their claims that turning over copies of site’s search engine source code, the “product of over a thousand person-years of work,” noting that such an order could do “catastrophic competitive harm” to the company.

CNet notes that Viacom v. Google is about more than a copyright complaint -- with Google’s frequent invocation of the DMCA’s safe harbor defense, one of the most lauded, fundamental rules of the oft-maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act may be at stake.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that, under federal law, courts may not request personally identifiable information unless it is absolutely necessary – which may be beyond the bounds of Viacom’s investigation. Either way, the requestor is obligated to notify consumers beforehand, and allow them a chance to contest the claim.

“Today’s court order made no finding that Viacom could not be accommodated by any other means, nor were the YouTube users provided with notice and an opportunity to contest the claim,” said the EFF. Instead, it writes, Stanton referred to a Google blog entry, where the company says that it believes IP addresses cannot identify users, and used Google’s own logic against it.

Viacom originally launched its lawsuit in 2007, where it alleged that YouTube users viewed over 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom property. The company believes that YouTube’s business model is “based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content,” and it demanded a court injunction to stop it.

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4 TB drive ?
By AntiM on 7/3/2008 8:37:39 AM , Rating: 4
Is it really possible to buy “over-the-shelf four-terabyte hard drives.” ?? I've never seen a 4 TB drive.

RE: 4 TB drive ?
RE: 4 TB drive ?
By djtodd on 7/3/2008 9:06:31 AM , Rating: 2
Nice, so in 2009 google can send them the records :)

RE: 4 TB drive ?
By BruceLeet on 7/3/2008 9:17:20 AM , Rating: 2
Basically, these types of court cases drag well on for a couple of years.

RE: 4 TB drive ?
By isorfir on 7/3/2008 9:05:48 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah, it's pretty easy to spot people who don't know what they're talking about. What the hell does "over-the-shelf" mean? He probably meant "off-the-shelf" and combined it with "over-the-counter".

I'm surprised he didn't say: "It's not a big truck. It's a series of YouTubes."

RE: 4 TB drive ?
By fic2 on 7/3/2008 1:34:22 PM , Rating: 5
Personally I think they should deliver it on 4 billion off the shelf 3.5" floppies. I'll donate all my old ones if they want them.

RE: 4 TB drive ?
By Oregonian2 on 7/3/2008 2:21:45 PM , Rating: 5
Still with AOL labels on them? We probably can get all 4 billion floppies to all be recycled AOL ones. They were my major floppy supplier, I was very upset with them when they went to CDs. :-)

Encrypt and copyright
By deadaye on 7/3/2008 9:03:11 AM , Rating: 5
All Google has to do is encrypt and copyright (both perfectly legal) the information before they give it to Viacom and then it will be illegal for Viacom to view it by their own definition.

RE: Encrypt and copyright
By deadaye on 7/3/2008 9:10:42 AM , Rating: 4
Google also should bring lawsuits against every owner of copyrighted material that makes it onto their site for not properly controlling their copyrighted material.

RE: Encrypt and copyright
By spluurfg on 7/3/2008 9:14:45 AM , Rating: 2
What they should do is perform an assessment of all financial benefit Viacom receives resulting from court action which benefits from the use of the statistics as evidence. They should then sue for a percentage of this financial benefit, as it was derived from use of the youtube statistics, which is clearly google's intellectual property (if they copyright it as you say).

RE: Encrypt and copyright
By bhieb on 7/3/2008 9:22:47 AM , Rating: 2
What I don't get is why these sites even keep logs. There may be some targeted advertising benefits, but I doubt they would justify this mess.

Are they legally required to keep them? And if so is every site required too?

RE: Encrypt and copyright
By Guvante on 7/3/2008 1:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
Logs are a nearly perfect way of getting information about your product. Especially for such a large site as YouTube. It allows them to get any piece of information they want about users.

For instance, lets say they want to implement a new feature, they can ask users via a directed poll what they thought about the feature and/or they can see based off some smart logs how many users use a work around that implements the feature.

RE: Encrypt and copyright
By Solandri on 7/3/2008 12:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
All Google has to do is encrypt and copyright (both perfectly legal) the information before they give it to Viacom and then it will be illegal for Viacom to view it by their own definition.

Alas, the bastards already thought of that. The DMCA has a section saying the DMCA protections don't apply if they need to break copyright encryption as part of an investigation into copyright violation.

MAkes sense to me
By Spivonious on 7/3/2008 8:14:08 AM , Rating: 1
Google doesn't even need to supply IPs, they just need to group the data by user; that's all Viacom is interested in. I don't think there's a privacy issue here at all. They could just say "User 23102 watched 65% illegal videos."

With that said, I don't know how YouTube could do a better filtering job than they already do.

RE: MAkes sense to me
By nemrod on 7/3/2008 9:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
Viacom doesn't trust google so if google modify the log how could it be a proof?

RE: MAkes sense to me
By Solandri on 7/3/2008 12:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
They could just say "User 23102 watched 65% illegal videos."

The problem comes in defining "illegal videos". Viacom and the *AA don't believe in or hold a very narrow definition of fair use rights such as excerpting, mixing, and satire. They'd probably classify any short clip as "illegal", as well as any music video mix combining scenes from commercial videos with a commercial song. They'd probably also flag out of spite anything that spoofed one of their works, even though satire probably has the strongest protection.

RE: MAkes sense to me
By Nik00117 on 7/3/2008 2:24:58 PM , Rating: 2
If thats the case then i've prob violated copyright, i've produced videos in the post and I'll be the first to admit I'm not scared of using a 15 second clip from a movie. Sure i'm not going blast the entire thing up there but sometimes those scenes just fit and you ahve to use them.

I really hate companies like VIACOM, the industry needs to come this conclusion.

Life isn't how it used to be, information freely flows and if we want to keep pace we gotta jump in. They have to play by our rules, and eventually they will.

RE: MAkes sense to me
By Hiawa23 on 7/3/2008 3:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
call me stupid, but can someone tell what constitutes illegal videos, cause most of us just log on Youtube & watch whatever comes to mind without even thinking about if this is illegal. Besides, it aint like you can watch porn & stuff on there, right or no..

RE: MAkes sense to me
By vapore0n on 7/7/2008 9:35:37 AM , Rating: 2
Illegal would be any video that use any type of copyrighted media without permission from the author.

So that video if you dancing while playing a song in the background could be illegal under the copyright terms. Or using that 15 second clip of a movie.
I know, stupid but that's the way they wrote them.

Heard of the case where this jiffy lube place had CD playing in the speakers and they got sued for "illegal broadcast" and lost to RIAA?

RE: MAkes sense to me
By 4wardtristan on 7/9/2008 11:11:23 PM , Rating: 2 can watch pr0n on youtube..

Catch 22
By sp00ns on 7/3/2008 11:45:55 AM , Rating: 2
In the EU it would be illegal to hand over such information as it would break EU privacy laws. It should be interesting to see how Google reconcile that with a US court order.

RE: Catch 22
By oab on 7/3/2008 1:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
You-Tube is a US company, incorporated in the US.

RE: Catch 22
By sp00ns on 7/3/2008 6:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
And that's the problem. They will be breaking EU law to fulfill a US court order. Will the EU fine them for breaking privacy laws? Microsoft is also a US company, incorporated in the US and the EU has imposed some mega fines upon them, over $600 million in one case. Maybe Google intends to stop operating in the EU?(or maybe a $600 million fine is pocket money to them)

RE: Catch 22
By xRyanCat on 7/3/2008 6:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
But all of Google's server farms reside in the US. So even if Viacom was completely based in the EU, US law would apply to the server farms. Even if the logs contain those of citizens who resides under the European Union's jurisdiction, it's irrelevant because the servers are once again on US soil.

However if Google also had server farms in the EU those particular farms and the logs contained within them would fall under EU law.

RE: Catch 22
By sp00ns on 7/4/2008 7:10:28 AM , Rating: 2
The EU doesn't care about where the servers are based only where the data is collected. While the EU defined its law pretty much pre-internet it basically states that anybody who processes personally identifiable data collected in the EU has to abide by EU data protection rules. If Google wants to do business with the EU they have to abide by EU rules. Its not Viacom who have a potential problem, its Google.

The best line I have read about this is in the Wikipedia article which states that there is little jurisprudence on this. Which is lawyer talk for big bucks over a long period of time.


RE: Catch 22
By JCY on 7/4/2008 11:25:13 AM , Rating: 2
Not all of Google’s servers are located in the US. They spread them out over most of the world in order to provide the fastest possible service.

This map should show where in the world some of them are located:

I am afraid this map don’t show precisely where they are in the located in country but I know the one in Dublin, Ireland is located near the Xerox headquarter.

It looks that....
By laok on 7/3/2008 7:57:35 AM , Rating: 2
you can file any lawsuits, and there is always some chance that a boneheaded judge will rule in favor of it.

Who knows the f* Viacom will do with the logs which could seriously harm users' privacy, and ip address is identifiable enough

RE: It looks that....
By Oregonian2 on 7/3/2008 2:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Won't that all become public when the lawsuit "proper" gets underway?

If 4Tb is the "raw" log size, it might fit on a single Dual-Layer DVD if RAR compressed. My web logs, at very least, compress REALLY well -- lot of the same text sequences over and over.

RE: It looks that....
By xRyanCat on 7/3/2008 6:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
The logs total 12 TB, so three 4TB drives would be needed to transfer the logs. Converting them to RAR would only add a cumbersome step to the process. Once they got the RAR archived logs they would still have to extract them on to hard drives...

Really just get 12x1TB drives and ship them over so Viacom and examine the contents.

I believe that Viacom shouldn't even need the full form of the logs just for the purpose they described.

RE: It looks that....
By Zoomer on 7/3/2008 8:33:05 PM , Rating: 2
And they should do it just to piss viacom off. Heh. :p

RE: It looks that....
By Nik00117 on 7/5/2008 4:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
I would put the logs on 1.44M floppy disks. Thats 8,333,333,334, I think it'd be funny (O btw its prob more like 10 mill cause I just did 12 tri divide by 1.44.

Ding Dong ... the witch is dead!
By George Riddick on 7/3/08, Rating: 0
By OblivionMage on 7/5/2008 2:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
Now that was a strange post;
troll troll troll troll troll troll trolltrolltrolltrolltroll

RE: Ding Dong ... the witch is dead!
By lagitup on 7/6/08, Rating: 0
By lagitup on 7/6/2008 3:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
people will actually care.

meant to say "will actually listen."

RE: Ding Dong ... the witch is dead!
By Arctucas on 7/7/2008 10:43:12 AM , Rating: 2
Mr. Riddick,

These guys just do not get it, do they?

By 4wardtristan on 7/9/2008 11:12:44 PM , Rating: 2
i dunno, but....christ that post was just to long to read

Best way to get free code
By ViroMan on 7/3/2008 7:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
I should find a good software company and lay some crappy law suite on there butt and ask to view the code to make sure its not infringing on me somehow. While I am at it, I will ask for user logs so I can see what they do and how I can change my software to make it more profitable. They will comply... I will pay the judge after all.

Lesson for the day...
By MrBlastman on 7/3/2008 9:37:46 AM , Rating: 2
Papa Pee Wee sit down in his big rocking chair and puts his swell mahogany pipe in his mouth. He carefully packs in some sweet smelling tobacco, gives it a light and a few puffs sending lazy clouds of O's up towards the heavens.

He pauses for a moment and looks out at the audience studying the crowd. After a couple of seconds a nice grin somes across his face and he smiles...

"Well, boys and girls, as you saw with little Bobby, putting copyrighted material up on a well-known website such as YouTube could have disastrous consequences to your social life," Pee Wee Explained, "It doesn't look like Bobby is going to be able to sit down for quite a while now - boy does he suurrre look sore on his backside. That Bubba was really rough on him!"

The Laugh sign flashes in the audience and the crowd erupts into a riot of laughter. Seconds later it quiets down again.

"Yes, putting copyrighted material up on YouTube just doesn't pay. If you want to end up like Bobby and have a permanent proctologist to assist you on a daily basis then be my guest!... Otherwise boys and girls, stick to IRC or private torrents - and please use better judgement. If you can still access it, try usenet too!"

A question.
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 7/3/2008 11:42:13 AM , Rating: 2
Wants to prove more people watch The Daily Show than homemade cat videos

Ahhhh....those cat videos are funny and cute. What is the daily show?

Maybe it's just me...........
By RjBass on 7/3/2008 2:46:44 PM , Rating: 2
but if Viacom is so sure that more people on Youtube are watching copyrighted material, then maybe it would benefit Viacom more to upload add supported legal snippets to Youtube instead of chasing this nonsense.

By excrucio on 8/3/2008 3:41:44 AM , Rating: 2
great laughs man all the 5 star posts are amazing.

But lawsuits have become religious...

All in the name of MONEY!(god)

it's money money money. Youtube clearly cannot keep track of millions of people uploading illegal material to their website, they have over 50 countries entering illegal material mostly being 8-10 minutes long maximum split in 4-6 parts. The dumb nuts out of the blue expect youtube to be able to clear every single god damn video out with in minutes. Pay the over time ppl that will be watching videos all day and all night to see if it was the last episode of America's Best dance crew...

they are freaking insane. Youtube will win.

Money hoggers.

The New Regime
By RedFoxOne on 7/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: The New Regime
By mmntech on 7/4/2008 10:56:21 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which this suit falls under, was passed by the Clinton administration in 1998, so Bush really has nothing to do with it. This is not the same as the anti-terrorism wiretapping case.

I see a simple solution to this problem. Call up your cable/satellite provider and tell them to immediately cancel all Viacom owned channels you currently receive. Make sure you tell them why you're doing it. In fact, here's a list of companies you don't want to give your business.
Though mass boycotts rarely work, there's still no sense to keep feeding the beast.

I was reading in the paper this morning that this court order seems to violate a 1988 US law called the Video Privacy Protection Act. If this can be applied to online video services such as Youtube, Google could be liable for up to $2500 in damages for each user's data handed over to Viacom.
It's going to be interesting to see where this goes. According to US law the way I read it, Viacom has no right to this data. I expect this case will eventually end up in the Supreme Court unless Google folds like they did with China.

RE: The New Regime
By JustTom on 7/6/2008 11:13:24 AM , Rating: 2
The law specifically targets video rentals, so I am not sure it applies in this case. Regardless, I am sure that since Google is following the instructions of the trial judge it is immune to any liabilities.

RE: The New Regime
By Arctucas on 7/7/2008 10:07:38 AM , Rating: 1
If you think it is bad now, just let the Socialists, err...Democrats get full control.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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