It was about two weeks ago when some idiotic U.S. judge ruled that Viacom, in their ongoing lawsuit with YouTube over copyright infringement, had the right to access YouTube users’ private data. Many including myself questioned the intentions of Viacom. Are they looking to compile a list of all possibilities of copyright infringement? Or even more disturbing, do they wish to compile a list of individuals they can begin suing for watching content that infringes copyright laws? Well, no more need to worry as Viacom has withdrawn their request for that information.
From the YouTube Blog:
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 addition, Viacom and the plaintiffs had originally demanded access to users’ private videos, our search technology, and our video identification technology. Our lawyers strongly opposed each of those demands and the court sided with us.
Andy Beal advises us not to celebrate this as a “protection of privacy issue” victory just yet. He suggest Viacom’s motive in changing their decision stems from their fear of the the swarm of negative publicity that would follow. In fact, I believe if Viacom had gained access to that data, public opinion would turn not only against them but YouTube as well.
At any rate, the judge’s initial ruling has set a precedent now that others will try to follow in gaining access to private data. As an Internet user, we must come to the sad realization that nothing “private” is private any more.