Up against the wall
In an unexpected twist on the Google/Viacom copyright battle, Viacom has expressed interest in learning which YouTube videos have been uploaded by Google staffers.
The media giant recently won the right to cruise YouTube records in search of copyright-protected content. Data now available to Viacom includes YouTube users' IP addresses, usernames, videos watched and video uploads.
The ruling, which could prove invasive and even legally damaging to YouTube users, was openly criticized over the internet. To protect users, the companies agreed to anonymize personal data.
Since then, Viacom has demanded access to data regarding what Google staff watched and uploaded onto YouTube.
"Viacom and other plaintiffs never should have demanded private viewing data in the first place," argued one Google spokesman in an e-mail to CNet. "We are willing to discuss the disclosure of viewing activity of all the relevant parties. But … users' privacy should not be held hostage to advance the plaintiffs' additional litigation interests." (Emphasis added.)
Google has so far refused to comply, observing that the ruling only demands that it hand over user data — not employee records, CNet reports.
According to PC Pro, the discovery of copyrighted material uploaded by Google employees could damage Google's "Safe Harbor" defense, which protects providers from lawsuits if they are unaware of illegal activity on their service.
The trouble between Viacom and Google began early last year, when Viacom demanded that YouTube remove 100,000 copyright-protected clips. A month later, it slapped Google with a $1 billion lawsuit.
Google argued numerous times that the lawsuit hurts internet users. And while it purportedly makes every effort to remove copyright content as it is discovered, it cannot account for all material uploaded onto YouTube.