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Viacom has "backed off" from demands to divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched a video on YouTube, the website has claimed.
Google, owners of YouTube, will now hand over the database but without data that could identify users. "We are pleased to report that Viacom, MTV and other litigants have backed off their original demand for all users' viewing histories and we will not be providing that information," said a statement on the YouTube blog.
Stalemate In YouTube Identity Protection Between Google and Viacom [webmasterworld.com]
But: (1) Viacom is still getting the data it wanted. (2) While Google will anonymize user names and IP addresses of YouTube users, Viacom has has said it never wanted the identities of YouTube users anyway. So it's just Google PR that claims victory. Hoorah!
And by the way, Viacom =still= wants the data from Youtube/Google users (not just uploaders). They need to see what employees did upload, and what they have seen. I can understand that.
“Viacom suggested the initiative to anonymize the data, and we have been prepared to accept anonymous information since day one. We hope that Google will turn its focus back to anonymizing the data they are required to deliver, and spend less time making statements about why they won’t get it done.”
Google's spin on this (and most other things) is getting a little sickening. I'm tired of what seems to be their self-righteous attitude, like they're the only ones who care about principle or Internet users. Google is a company too, and they're out for their bottom line. But because they do it by flaunting every authority they come across, somehow they're respected for it while the companies who are really standing up for principle are somehow turned into the bad guys.
[edited by: MatthewHSE at 8:06 pm (utc) on July 15, 2008]
If Viacom had really not asked for what it said it didn't want, the judge wouldn't have written a decision telling them whether they could have what they hadn't asked for. The judge's decision makes Viacom PR out to be alienated from reality.
"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the cable company. We exist solely to make the phone company seem compassionate."
Defendants' "Logging" database contains, 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. Do Sept. 12, 2007 Dep. 154:8-21 (Kohlmann Decl. Ex. B); Do Decl. ¶ 16. That database (which is stored on live computer hard drives) is the only existing record of how often each video has been viewed during various time periods. Its data can "recreate the number of views for any particular day of a video." Do Dep. 211:16-21.
Plaintiffs seek 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. Pls.' Mot. 19.
The actual order is at
posted on a site where, understandably, the company using legal strong-arm tactics to harass potential competitors (eagerly trampling all over personal privacy in the process) is called evil; and anyone resisting those tactics is recognized as doing a Good Thing (even if judgment on the doctrine of immaculate conception may be reserved.)
Why is Youtube/Google keeping this information to begin with?
I can understand a 'counter' for many times a video is watched, but why do they need to log and store (for long periods of time/indefinitely) all of this info.
If they didn't CHOOSE to keep it, this wouldn't be an issue now, would it?