Copyright Infringement... Really?
In the ongoing copyright litigation between Google and Viacom, a United States District Court judge for the Southern District of New York has ordered Google to hand over data on every YouTube user, including username, the associated IP address, and a list of all the videos that the user viewed. In this lawsuit, Viacom is seeking more than $1 billion in damages because of alleged copyright violations on YouTube.
A district court judge in New York recently allowed one of the largest media conglomerates in the world to lay hands on our personal data that even we ourselves cannot access. It’s a massive 12 terabytes of YouTube user data that the district judge ordered Google Inc to handover to Viacom Broadcasting. The American broadcaster, which is losing young television viewers daily to Internet media—YouTube, needs all this data to prevent the clips of its programming on the net’s most thriving community. Skeptics view this as a move to prevent the fan-base erosion and impact that online exposure provides to discuss, discover and share audience opinions about Viacom’s TV shows, music videos and movie trailers.
We all know that viewers would be posting Viacom videos on YouTube without Viacom’s permission, and this is rightly a case of copyright infringement. However, it is really impossible to pick on the real crime here, and this is a breach of privacy!
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), this ruling violates the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (VPAA), which forbids the disclosure of personally identifiable rental data without a consumer’s consent. EFF goes on to state that because some users on YouTube use their full names as login names, the VPAA applies to YouTube. For most users, however, the underlying question is what exactly Viacom will do with all this data.