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Google blasts Viacom stating, "Our users' privacy should not be held hostage" accusing Viacom of bullyism

Many fear that Viacom's lengthy legal campaign against Google subsidiary YouTube is just a sign of things to come.  Viacom's aggressive stance as it pursues $1B USD in litigation against YouTube for allegedly sharing copyrighted video material strikes many as reminiscent of the Recording Industry of Artists of America's (RIAA) early tactics. 

When a judge ordered that YouTube turn over its user logs, many privacy groups were outraged and blasted Viacom.  Viacom has said in the past that it currently had no plans to push litigation against individual users, but could not rule out the possibility.  In the face of massive criticism, Viacom agreed to let Google anonymize the data.  However, since this concession, it has done little to advance such efforts and is now demanding that the data be handed over, private or not.

Google/YouTube is fighting particularly hard over one part of the data -- its employees' histories.  Google says that since it failed to reach an agreement about anonymizing the data yet, it will not hand over the viewing histories, uploading histories, IP addresses, and usernames of its employees unless the data has been made anonymous.

In an email Google's spokesman wrote, "Viacom and other plaintiffs never should have demanded private viewing data in the first place.  They should have agreed a week ago to let us anonymize it. We are willing to discuss the disclosure of viewing activity of all the relevant parties. But the simple issue of protecting user information should be resolved now. Our users' privacy should not be held hostage to advance the plaintiffs' additional litigation interests."

Viacom, parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, insists it does not want specific user information, but also insists that the records must be turned over -- private or not.  A Viacom spokesman argued, "Viacom suggested the initiative to anonymize the data, and we have been prepared to accept anonymous information since day one."

According to sources, Google and Viacom were close to reaching an anonymization deal.  Allegedly Google backed out because Viacom insisted that it would have to have Google's employee information.  Viacom's lawyers argued that if Chad Hurley, one of YouTube's co-founders uploaded copyright videos or viewed them, they have a right to know.  Hurley and other employees have been accused by some of possibly engaging in such practices.

Google may have a tough legal fight on its hands to protect the information.  It is common in suits for personal employee information, including e-mails, memos, and other documents to be turned over.

If Viacom manages to get its hands on the records, experts say they could seriously help its case.  If it can prove YouTube employees knew that copyrighted material was being posted, or even posted it itself, YouTube would likely lose its Digital Millennium Copyright Act protection and could be taken offline whole or part.  Viacom would also likely be much more likely to win the damages it hopes for, which would be devastating to YouTube.

YouTube insists that it is an internet service provider and is thus protected by the DMCA's Safe Harbor provision, which removes liability from ISPs for their users’ actions.  In order to qualify, the ISP must not know of illegal acts, though, or be unable to prevent them.

The site has deployed some copyright protection measures, but insisted it has no way to remove all copyrighted material from the site.  It argues that the only workable way is to remove content which copyright holders request.  Copyright holders like Viacom resent this approach as it costs them time and money.  Many are skeptical that YouTube couldn't employ or develop such technologies

Some go as far as to accuse YouTube’s employees of spiking interest for the site by posing as users and posting copyrighted comment such as popular TV shows during the site's early years.  Such claims have had little backing evidence, however.  That could soon change if the records are released and found to show violations.

Viacom is just one of a larger group of copyright holders seeking damages against YouTube.  YouTube has also been targeted recently by the artist Prince, who considers it on level with the duplicity of the Pirate Bay, a popular torrent site which he is also suing.  Many criticize Viacom's tactics saying that it should turn to legitimized sharing measures like the popular service Hulu, supported by NBC and other content providers.

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Good for Google
By PrezWeezy on 7/14/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good for Google
By ebakke on 7/14/2008 3:48:37 PM , Rating: 5
Don't fool yourself; Google is standing up for Google. If you or anyone else benefits from its fighting, fine. If not, fine too.

RE: Good for Google
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 7/14/2008 4:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, you read it wrong if you thought they were concerned about Viacom getting information on you. They just don't want to give incriminating information about their employees.

I'm tring to figure out how YouTube could aruge that they are an ISP? Is there some definition of Internet Service Provider that describes someonething other than a company that "Provides Internet Service?" If YouTube is an ISP, isn't every other website also?

RE: Good for Google
By Oregonian2 on 7/14/2008 6:47:41 PM , Rating: 1

I'm tring to figure out how YouTube could aruge that they are an ISP?

Two ways:

1. They do provide an internet service, so they're an internet service provider ("ISP"). :-)

2. Unlike normal websites, Google is not an "endpoint", they are a provider of internet access to the "endpoints" somewhat like one uses DSL for. They are an intermediate point between you and where you're trying to go -- one does not go to google, as such, as the end point. Even on Youtube all content is provided from entities outside of Google. The only thing I can think of where they provide the content is google maps (may be others, but the main stuff all are indirections to content from elsewhere).

RE: Good for Google
By porkpie on 7/14/2008 7:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
That's a stretch, even for Google.

RE: Good for Google
By Oregonian2 on 7/15/2008 3:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
True, but weren't we talking about the realm of lawyer-talk? :-)

Eye in the Pyramid?
By sh3rules on 7/14/2008 8:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
What do Freemasons have to do with this?

RE: Eye in the Pyramid?
By Alexstarfire on 7/15/2008 1:20:38 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing. I'm sure it's more of a reference to the dollar bill, AKA money.

RE: Eye in the Pyramid?
By Frallan on 7/15/2008 4:16:09 AM , Rating: 3

-Just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean they are Not following you....

RE: Eye in the Pyramid?
By Treckin on 7/15/2008 4:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
Are you serious?

Cummon man, at least make an effort to be well-read. Im sure you saw a 'Freemason expose' on the history channel, and were just itching to show off your new-found factoid.

Its Stupid
By Viewer1000 on 7/14/2008 9:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
Copyright holders like Viacom resent this approach as it costs them time and money. Many are skeptical that YouTube couldn't employ or develop such technologies.

This just explains as much.

Viacom = Wants Money = Predator

Youtube/Google = Big Fat Sheep = Prey

They do not want to compromise, they do not want to have any other things, they want to earn Quick Money, Big Money.

What will they do after getting the private user datas?

From what they already earned from Google, they will prob move on to sueing almost every single person they can get on the long thick lore of "Free Money Givers".

Conclusion = This is merely another Prey - Predator story in the big business market which will affect almost or rather, alot of the population of the Earth whom view/uploads things to youtube.

Maybe next time Viacom will go on to sue VHS owners for taping down their shows and share it around.

RE: Its Stupid
By Scott66 on 7/14/2008 11:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
Google is not a big fat sheep bleeting and waiting to be slaughtered, it is a company fighting to maintain its profits off the back of the creative. It is a meeting place for those who want to say something and those willing to listen. It makes money from advertisers who also want to tell something to the viewers.

This can all be done anonymously but Google makes more money if they can personify the network traffic. Google/Youtube make more money if the data is not anonymous and the private viewing habits of individuals can be collected. Viewers don't complain about this monitoring because they value the service provided.

Viacom and many other content creators, don't like YouTube because they lose money as potential customers are viewing Viacom's property without paying Viacom for it. Viewers are more than happy to reimburse Youtube through ad revenues and the Google's selling of trackable user traffic.

Frankly I would rather pay Viacom with cash and be anonymous than Google with records of my viewing habits. The first case I am a consumer, the second I am on record as a receiver of stolen property.

RE: Its Stupid
By Solandri on 7/15/2008 12:13:37 PM , Rating: 2
And what makes you think Viacom wouldn't collect purchasing data and sell your viewing habits to advertisers so they can send you junk mail and spam?

I dunno about other people, and I guess this is kinda the point of this case, but the vast majority of stuff I watch on YouTube is home-made videos. Stuff people came up with on their own, posted, and shared. Sure there's the occasional studio copyrighted RickRoll or TV show excerpt (which is probably protected under fair use). But most of what I find interesting and what my friends link to is original stuff. It's like Usenet, bulletin boards, and web forums, only with video.

I would hate to see all that go away because some studio can't be bothered to hire a few people to watch videos which come up on YouTube's search based on certain keywords, and report the ones that infringe their copyright so Google can pull them.

RE: Its Stupid
By Scott66 on 7/15/2008 8:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
As I said I would pay cash and buy the DVD. Currency is the great anonymizer.

Viacom lost money?
By Alexstarfire on 7/15/2008 1:26:38 AM , Rating: 2
How does Viacom claim they lost money? Through ads? Cause I seriously doubt the amount they could have possibly lost from ads amounts to $1B dollars.

RE: Viacom lost money?
By Scott66 on 7/15/2008 1:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
Lost DVD sales and syndication revenues will add up to major money.

RE: Viacom lost money?
By Solandri on 7/15/2008 12:21:54 PM , Rating: 2
Please, tell us where you're finding all these movies and syndicated TV shows on YouTube. All I can find are clips and trailers. They probably increase movie ticket sales, DVD rentals and sales, and TV viewership by getting people interested. The only full shows I can regularly find on YouTube are from Asia, which I couldn't buy or watch here in the U.S. anyway.

RE: Viacom lost money?
By Steve Guilliot on 7/15/2008 7:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that you can't find movies and TV shows now isn't important. Viacom is suing for past damages, not future damages. Also, posting highlight clips of TV shows very much constitutes damages when it reduces the viewership of the broadcast and corresponding commercials.

The argument that posting copyright material does the copyright holder a favor by whipping up interest is completely bogus. Just ask the recording industry how much interest is being whipped up in their music as their industry tanks. Hate the RIAA, fine, but recognize reality.

Hark! Hark!
By MrBlastman on 7/14/2008 2:46:06 PM , Rating: 4
Said the Google who stores mounds of data themselves on their users, customers and advertisers.

The Cheshire Cat would have much to say on matters such as these....

RE: Hark! Hark!
By AntiM on 7/14/2008 3:11:12 PM , Rating: 3
Here Here

"Don't store no personal data, and there won't be no personal data!"


Double-standards, lovely
By chromal on 7/14/2008 3:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, sure. Google with protect its staff, but not its users. Thanks a lot, Google.

RE: Double-standards, lovely
By gyranthir on 7/14/2008 3:33:26 PM , Rating: 4
You're reading it wrong. They want to anonymize all of it, including their employee information.

Either way, google needs to win this.

Somewhere in the near future...
By amanojaku on 7/14/2008 3:55:05 PM , Rating: 5
It it a blissful spring morning.
Birds are singing, flowers are blooming...
A curious group toils away in a large room.
Magazines are torn, their pages destroyed for the individuals' pictures.
The pictures are trimmed, then pasted to boards depicting imaginary circumstances.
Properly Photoshoped the scenes would be compromising to the subjects depicted...

Outside a deep hum begins, then slowly increases in volume.
*Crash!* The windows explode and shards of glass are blown in from a violent wind.
Figures emerge from the windows shooting metal fire at the fleeing laborers.
When the fire is extinguished there is no longer any movement.
A man steps up to survey the ubiquitous perforations.
"Damn second graders and their thieving collages!" he exclaims.
"That's one for chode-head content owners everywhere!"
"Now let's head over to the swap meet at the recreational center."
"The mummies from the old folks' home are trading VHS cassettes!!!"

F* the RIAA, MPAA, Viacom, etc... You can protect your content, but you can't violate my right to privacy.

I hope...
By Radnor on 7/14/2008 7:42:08 PM , Rating: 2
That Viacom and the others will win. I really do.
I really hope they invade our privacy in a way we stop consuming their product. With nobody or very little people consuming their product (i feel quite outraged when i read this news) they will cease to exist.

The Artist, formerly known as prince, formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson, will learn that lousy artists dont do money because they are lousy artists !!!!

EA already learned the hard way about securom. Time for this guys to take the fall. Honestly. I hope this guys learn it the hard way.

RE: I hope...
By DigitalFreak on 7/14/2008 8:37:39 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, right. The sheep are too stupid to put up a fight.

Comedy Central...
By vic1218 on 7/15/2008 3:41:19 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly I hope Viacom can't make this suit through... I'll miss watching Russell Peters on YouTube...

Google: "I'll give you thirty."

Viacom: "Nooooooooooo... Nooooo... I can't do thirty dollars. I sell you thirty dollars today you come tomorrow I close down..."

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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