A recent BBC news story, “Google must divulge YouTube log,” reports on the latest phase in the Viacom case against Google’s YouTube: A U.S. court ordered Google to disclose the viewing logs of each and every YouTube user. This gives Viacom access to over 12 terabytes of data so they can prove their dubious claim that “infringing” videos hold more appeal than non-infringing ones. As the EFF and others have pointed out, this is a serious setback in user privacy. It’s a black-eye for Google who should have made IP address data anonymous a long time ago. And shame on Viacom for even asking. Google should have been keeping the data in anonymous form. Another tarnish on the shiny Google image, and just another pound of slime on the already greedy image of Viacom.
Google said the log should not be handed over because of privacy concerns, in their submission to the court Google said: “Plaintiffs (Viacom) would likely be able to determine the viewing and video uploading habits of YouTube’s users based on the user’s login ID and the user’s IP address.” But the court ruled these concerns were “speculative”. So much for the judge’s respect for rights to privacy.
The copyright thing is out of control, no, not copyright law per se, but how corporations are using it in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of media change. Another argument why we need a more vibrant, competitive, user-driven media ecosystem. And this can happen if you embrace the change, make the change, be the change. This summer, avoid Viacom channels like Nick@Night, TV Land, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Bravo, etc. and go out and make your own media and watch the great media that’s being made by your fellow citizens. Check out the great shows on blip.tv. Check out the wonderful short films on YouTube. Be the media, or encourage those citizens who are.