Tuesday, July 15, 2008

YouTube to remove user details from records

GOOGLE will remove all user details from a log of videos watched on YouTube that it has been ordered to supply to media giant Viacom as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Google, which owns the video-sharing website, was earlier this month told to hand over the YouTube "Logging" database to Viacom by US District Court judge Louis Stanton.

The database contains a record of every clip viewed on the website, along with the date, time, IP address and user ID of the person who watched it.

In a win for user privacy, the two companies this week reached an agreement to remove all identifying data from the records before the handover.

"As we let you know on July 4, YouTube received a court order to produce viewing history data," read a statement posted on YouTube's blog today.

"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."

In a court document signed yesterday, lawyers for both Google and Viacom agreed that the database records would be anonymised to protect user privacy.

"When producing data from the Logging Database pursuant to the Order, Defendants (Google and YouTube) shall substitute values while preserving uniqueness for entries in the following fields: User ID, IP Address and Visitor ID," the agreement said.

This means Viacom will be able to identify each time a clip has been viewed by a different person, but will not be able to access details regarding who the viewer was.

Viacom sought access to the database in a bid to prove that clips allegedly infringing copyright, such as scenes from TV shows and movies, were more popular than user-generated content.

In March 2007, the media giant instigated a $US1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube, alleging that the video-sharing website hosted over 150,000 unauthorised clips that had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Viacom's media empire includes Paramount Pictures, MTV, DreamWorks and Nickelodeon.


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