If you were off the grid last week celebrating the July 4th holiday, there were some important fireworks in the ongoing Viacom -- Google/YouTube litigation you may have missed -- even though you’re not likely to miss the aftershocks.
Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court in New York, who is presiding over the litigation, handed down an opinion that granted and denied some of what each party was requesting. The opinion is here. I have read it and below is my synopsis (remember I'm not a lawyer):
Table 1: The Latest Ruling
Production of Google's search code to support Viacom's allegation that Google/YouTube modified its code to faciliate the location of Viacom's infringed content
Production of Google/YouTube's "Video ID" code to support Viacom's allegation that Google/YouTube could have done more to control infringement
Copies of all videos once available on YouTube, but later removed, to help Viacom identify which of them infringe their copyrights
Production of YouTube's "Logging" database, which includes user's unique login ID, time each video was watched, IP address, and the video's identifier, all to help Viacom compare the attractiveness of allegedly infringed videos with that of non-infringed videos
Production of "User" and "Mono" databases, which include information about all YouTube videos, including user-supplied title and keywords, public comments, whether it was flagged as inappropriate, whether administrative action was taken in response, whether user who posted it was terminated -- all to help Viacom, among other things, to find further evidence that Google/YouTube knew or should have known about the infringing activity
Production of the Google Advertising Schema to help Viacom show what Google/YouTube could have known about how their ad revenues were associated with infringing content
Production of Google Video Schema to help Viacom show that Google/YouTube were aware of infringements and had the ability to control these infringements
Production of all copies of videos marked "Private" but which may have been shared with the public while evading detection by content owners, to help Viacom properly argue their construction of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
Denied, except to extent of providing "non-content" data about these videos
The fourth item is the one that has attracted the most attention and controversy. Privacy advocates are ballistic that granting access to YouTube’s database is a violation of users' privacy rights. A cottage industry of ridicule has broken out across the blogosphere regarding whether the 80-year-old Judge Stanton is sufficiently tech literate to grasp online privacy concerns. Many believe Viacom will use the data to sue individual users for viewing pirated copies of Viacom's programs on YouTube.
Like everyone else, I'm concerned about privacy and recognize that Judge Stanton has moved this case into some very slippery territory. Yet, at a higher level, I'm feeling some resentment toward Google and YouTube, especially given Google’s famous "do no evil" mantra.
There is no question that these companies knew pirated versions of key programs from Viacom (and others) were showing up on YouTube, yet months went by without them candidly addressing the issue and doing something sufficiently proactive about it. As a result, YouTube’s users -- courtesy of Judge Stanton’s decision -- have been dragged into this morass. That’s a real problem for everyone. I for one believe that when we use various Websites, there is an implicit and explicit understanding that our privacy will be aggressively safeguarded.
While sites have a right to defend their business practices based on their interpretation of the existing laws, they need to balance this by considering what impact their actions may ultimately have on their users. Each of us has our own interpretation of what Google/YouTube could have or should have done to protect Viacom's and others' copyrights. But Judge Stanton's decision shows that the extent of YouTube users' privacy protection is now entirely up to his interpretation.
Will, you’ve hit upon a number of interesting points in you post.I think the fundamental question is who owns what and how is it protected on the Internet.Unfortunately, this issue will not be quickly or easily resolved.
I think we’re going to see more of these issues pop up in the near future.They will involve the legal system and will focus on issues of private vs. public domain.Increasingly, judges will be expected to rule on such issues even when they don’t have the knowledge, experience and training they need to do so.Such rulings will be made based on questions of whom owns what intellectual property and how is it protected in cyberspace?Even more critical issues to be decided are around safety and security of all Internet users.
There are now over 1 billion people on the Internet, and most of these are from countries other than the United States.When you cross cultural and country boundaries, I think these issues get even more difficult.
As I said, this isn’t the last time you’ll see these issues surface.
One aspect of the ruling I find interesting is the implication that users may be responsible for having trusted a Web site to keep their identities private, even if both the supplier and the user were aware of the potential for copyright infringement or some other lurking liability.
Another blogger, Andrew Keen, doesn't let anyone off the hook for this:
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A recent article in the New York Times, "In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time?" was the latest of many about the changing landscape of broadcast network TV. An underlying question that receives a lot of attention, yet little in the way of clear-cut conclusions:Does broadband video help or hurt broadcast TV networks?
Recent developments in the broadband video marketplace are pointing to an emerging and significant trend: the early formation of what I would term the "syndicated video economy." In other words, I'm seeing more and more industry participants' strategies -- in both media and technology -- start from the proposition that the broadband video industry will only succeed if video assets are widely dispersed and revenue creatively apportioned.
This week, I ignored the well worn admonition that "there are two things you don't want to see made -- sausage and legislation." I attended the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's open meeting on broadband network management at Harvard Law School’s lecture hall.The hearing's purpose was to collect more information regarding "Net neutrality" to help the FCC develop policy and recommendations on the subject. I want to offer some quick observations about the FCC's meeting and how the fight over Net neutrality is likely to play out.
After observing business activities at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last month, it became clear to me that both content and consumer electronics firms have come to the same conclusion: Their success is inextricably tied to each other. Each industry recognizes that the business dynamics of the future require a new way of differentiating their products than they are accustomed.
The quest for Webpage clicks and ad impressions is creating a market for sensational truths and lies in equal measure. How are we going to get to the bottom of any real issue online – like what's really going on with Carrier IQ, for example – if we can't separate hype from reality?
The Netflix streaming service may show us whether consumers value TV over movies, ad-sponsored over paid content, and whether they value good Internet video enough to encourage operators to offer premium services, as Google and Verizon propose.
Facebook's Graph Search may face some profound challenges and risks, first, because Facebook users haven't been thinking of their posts as product reviews; and second, because Facebook will now have to contend with the social-network equivalent of SEO "gaming" of results.
The new UltraViolet online DRM model has people upset, but the question we should ask ourselves is whether we want a flexible model to harmonize content owner and content consumer rights, or a one-takes-all model that probably results in less online content.
Netflix seemed to be a threat to all of TV, but with the current quarterly earnings report, it sure doesn't look as if that's true now. Netflix really proves that even Internet viewing of video isn't immune to profit and other business issues. This is a lesson we need to learn if we want a viable online video model.
The whole Amazon.reader debate is a double-stupid. It's stupid to think that there's any e-book buyer who doesn't know Amazon's URL, and it was stupider to let ICANN launch the whole free-form TLD initiative to start with.
Enterprises would like to move to cloud computing but are hesitant because they are concerned about providers’ ability to secure company data. Here are some tips that help to ensure that if breaches occur, the business is not left holding the bag.
Edmunds separates customers into segments based on the info it collects on its site and from partners, and uses that to push out custom content, said Brian Baron, director of business analytics for Edmunds.com, at Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit.
The automotive website uses propensity modeling to target ads and customer registration forms, said Brian Baron, director of business analytics for Edmunds.com, at Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit.
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