Federal Judge Orders Google to Turn Over YouTube User Info

Bob Preston
NEW YORK — Viacom knows what you like to watch on YouTube.

In a decision that has alarmed privacy advocates, a New York federal judge has ordered the video-sharing giant to turn over its database of user activity to Viacom.

Viacom filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against YouTube, claiming that the company breached copyright laws because so many YouTube users have watched copyrighted content. Viacom owns Paramount and MTV.

The judge's decision will give Viacom access to all usernames, passwords and activity on YouTube, though not the individual ISPs for each user.

What does Viacom want with all this data? According to company officials, the company plans to use the information to demonstrate that YouTube has allowed copyrighted content to be uploaded in order to draw more traffic.

Google has responded by saying that it has no real control over what appears on YouTube, although the video-sharing site's terms of use forbid copyrighted content, and administrators remove such content after complaints.

As a part of the ruling, Google must also give Viacom information about all videos removed from the site.

Although this decision doesn't have any immediate impact on the adult industry, online guru Brandon "Fight The Patent" told XBIZ that the decision may have a chilling effect on other video-sharing websites.

"Besides just getting a list of people who uploaded [copyrighted content], [Viacom] is also getting the usernames of those that watched those videos."