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7/3/2008
01:07 PM
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Google Ordered To Release Data On YouTube Users

The owner of YouTube has to turn over user login IDs, records showing when users watched videos, their IP addresses, and numbers that identify the videos.

The judge hearing Viacom's $1 billion copyright-infringement claim against Google has ordered its YouTube unit to provide user histories.

Google has to turn over millions of videos it has removed from the video-sharing site, user login IDs, records showing when users watched videos, their IP addresses, and numbers that identify the videos. The order applies not only to videos watched on YouTube but also to videos embedded on third-party Web sites.

Google tried to argue that the request, for about 12 TB of data, was unduly burdensome, but U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton determined that it would be easy to copy. The search engine company also argued that Viacom's request for the information threatened user privacy because it would disclose viewing and video uploading patterns and link them with login IDs and IP addresses. Stanton characterized those concerns as "speculative" and said Google failed to provide legal justification for that argument.

Stanton did decide in Google's favor by turning down requests for proprietary information: indexes showing how Google organizes its videos and ads, as well as the source code for YouTube search, Google search, and the company's new video ID program.

The judge also ruled in Google's favor on two other points. He denied Viacom's request for titles, keywords, comments, and flags for inappropriate content, saying that request was too broad. He also declared that private videos uploaded by a user sharing with one other user are protected under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Viacom sought the records to prove its claim that YouTube and Google encourage or promote copyright infringement by its users. The case is being heard in federal court in Manhattan.

Privacy advocates said that YouTube users' privacy rights would be violated if the information is released.

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