Google ordered to hand over YouTube logs in Viacom litigation

August 2008


Google has been told to hand over logs of every video ever watched on its YouTube video sharing platform, plus details of the user names and/or IP addresses of the people who have watched them. Google have been told to make the logs available by District Judge Louis L Stanton as part of its ongoing legal fight with MTV owners Viacom. As previously reported, Viacom are suing the video site for copyright infringement, because of the amount of content from its channels available on YouTube without their permission. YouTube have put forward the standard defence – that they do not personally make unlicensed content available, and that they remove any unlicensed content uploaded by punters if and when content owners make them aware of it. YouTube say that under current US copyright laws that policy means they are not guilty of infringement – though that interpretation of the law is so far untested in court, and this case could be the first to do so. Unlike other record companies and broadcasters, Viacom have not seemed interested in doing a licencing deal with YouTube – something that the video site has managed to do when most other content owners have threatened to sue – possibly because Viacom see the video service as a particular threat among their youth demographic, and they’d rather see it cripplingly restricted rather than work with it. Viacom asked for YouTube to reveal its viewing logs in a bid to demonstrate that [a] most videos watched on the website are not user-generated and [b] to ascertain just how much Viacom content has been viewed. The court agreed with the need for such data to be revealed as part of the case, but refused another request to have details of how the YouTube system works revealed, because that would infringe Google’s commercial confidence rights.

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