Friday, July 04, 2008

Too Much Information

A while ago Viacom sued Google (well YouTube, which Google owns) over a bunch of clips that were posted which Viacom claims violated its copyrights1.

As part of the case they want to know how popular the clips of their material are compared to other non-infringing material. To do this they asked for, and the judge has ordered Google to provide them with a log of user IP addresses, login names and videos watched. These logs will include everyone who has ever watched a YouTube video2.

This is way too much information. And not just because it's about 12 terabytes worth of data. It's information that isn't needed by Viacom to prove it's claim. If they want to show that their content posted inappropriately is more popular than non-infringing content, they just need to compare the number of times each video was watched. They don't need to know who watched it. They don't need the IP address of who watched it. They just need the clip name and the number of times it was watched.

Another problem is that if Google hands over this information, they may violate privacy laws by giving people's personal information away.

The judge in this case should be doing a better job. He should realize that the information he ordered Google to provide is unnecessary for Viacom to make their claim, and should have given them only the information they need, not what they want. And he should know better to make an order that could require Google to break the law. This decision is bad and it sets a dangerous precedent for future cases.

Edit: Just after hitting post, the question came to me, why has YouTube been storing all this information? It would make life a lot easier for us if they could tell the judge "Well, we never really needed that detailed information so we never kept it. We might be able to get the last 24 hours worth for you if we try." The best way to keep information like this safe is to not store it.

1) I'm sure that there are many clips that violate Viacom (and others) copyrights on YouTube. However, under American law (the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA specifically) YouTube's liability is negligible if they rapidly respond to properly sent take down notices.

Also, I don't think companies should be getting upset by people liking their stuff so much that they want to share it with the world. Especially when said company isn't sharing it with the rest of the world.

2) I think that my definition of the civilized world could be those who have watched a YouTube video.

End Post
Writing time: 21 minutes
Time since last post: 4 days
Current media: None


Hewhoblogs said...

should no better

You're know better at grammar then the average YouTube patron!

Also I am very concerned about this sort of thing. Back in the olden days fascism used to be difficult to implement.

Esonlinji said...

in true 1984 style, I don't know what you're talking about.