John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Viacom’s Pants on Fire?

Awkward, isn’t it, when a media conglomerate stumbles to cover its ass in the face of public outcry? Just as Viacom (VIA) is doing today as it works to spin in a positive light a judge’s decision to award it access to YouTube’s logging database and all the user information it contains. “Viacom has not requested any personally identifiable information from YouTube as part of the litigation,” the company claims on its brand new YouTube Ligitation site. “The personally identifiable information that YouTube collects from its users will be stripped from the data before it is transferred to Viacom. Viacom will use the data exclusively for the purpose of proving our case against You Tube and Google” (GOOG).

Well, that’s reassuring, isn’t? But is it accurate? Because according to the discovery order in the case, Viacom did ask for personally identifiable information–or potentially personally identifiable information, anyway. From the order:

Plaintiffs seek all data from the Logging database, which contains for each instance a video is watched, the unique ‘login ID’ of the user who watched it, the time when the user started to watch the video, the Internet protocol address other devices connected to the internet use to identify the user’s computer (‘IP address’), and the identifier for the video.”

The judge granted that request. Thankfully, he denied another one for YouTube’s “User” and “Mono” databases, which “contain information about each video available in YouTube’s collection, including its user-supplied title and keywords, public comments from others about it, whether it has been flagged as inappropriate by others (for copyright infringement or for other improprieties (such as obscenity) and the reason it was flagged, whether an administrative action was taken in response to a complaint about it, whether the user who posted it was terminated for copyright infringement, and the username of the user who posted it.

Now, what was that Viacom said again? We have not requested any personally identifiable information from YouTube as part of the litigation?