In the original complaint filed on March 13, 2007, Viacom, which owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, alleged that YouTube, owned by Google, was guilty of copyright infringement.
A U.S. Court has issued their ruling in the Viacom v. Google case where Viacom filed a complaint against Google for copyright infringement. The ruling says that Google must provide Viacom data from their logging database.
Number two item in the original complaint says:
YouTube has harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale, depriving writers, composers and performers of the rewards they are owed for the effort and innovation, reducing the incentives of America's creative industries, and profiting of the illegal conduct of others as well. Using the leverage of the Internet, YouTube appropriates the value of creative content on a massive scale for YouTube's benefit without payment or license. YouTubes brazen disregard of the intellectual property laws fundamentally threatens not just the Plaintiff's, but the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy.
When Viacom filed that original complaint, the said they had identified approximately 160,000 unauthorized portions of their programs on the YouTube website, accounting for over 1.5 billion views.
YouTube has since put filtering tools in place to try to prevent copyrighted material from being viewed at their site.
The U.S Court denied Viacom's request for YouTube's source code, accepting YouTube's argument that their coding was a"trade secret".
The court did rule (25 page PDF) that YouTube/Google must provide Viacom with "all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website."
Googles argument against that was that it would allow Viacom to view the viewing habits of millions of YouTube users.
Viacom's argument, which the ruling favored, was that it needed to "compare the attractiveness of allegedly infringing videos with that of non-infringing videos. A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiffs’ vicarious liability claim,
and defendants’ substantial non-infringing use defense."
This court ruling overrode concerns presented to the court about privacy issues of YouTube viewers, which the court called simply "speculative".
Privacy expert Simon Davies told BBC that this ruling will threaten the privacy of millions of YouTube users, stating, "The chickens have come home to roost for Google.
"Their arrogance and refusal to listen to friendly advice has resulted in the privacy of tens of millions being placed under threat."
Mr Davies said privacy campaigners had warned Google for years that IP addresses were personally identifiable information.
Google pledged last year to anonymise IP addresses for search information but it has said nothing about YouTube data.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls this a "set-back to privacy rights" and calls this ruling "erroneous", stating, "The Court's erroneous ruling is a set-back to privacy rights, and will allow Viacom to see what you are watching on YouTube.
"We urge Viacom to back off this overbroad request and Google to take all steps necessary to challenge this order and protect the rights of its users."
On the EFF site in an article discussing the court's ruling, they show the type of information that will now be available to Viacom:
for each instance a video is watched, the unique “login ID” of the user who watched it, the time when the user started to watch the video, the internet protocol address other devices connected to the internet use to identify the user’s computer (“IP address”), and the identifier for the video.
It is believed by some that this ruling, while being argued in the United States, could potentially affect YouTube viewers everywhere, not just in the U.S.
You can view documents on all actions taken in this case from the filing in March of 20o7, up until this point by clicking the document you wish to view from Justia.