Yesterday I spent the better part of an hour watching the Thundercast movie, “The Beginning.” That’s not what’s really matters though. What matters is that Viacom will now know that I was watching the movie. This ruling may not be completely legal though. As the EFF points out, “Federal law ‘prohibits video tape service providers from disclosing information on the specific video materials subscribers request or obtain.'”
As Mike Arrington points out, the data required to be handed over includes every “YouTube username, the associated IP address and the videos that user has watched on YouTube.” This is a pretty ridiculous court ruling and one that I’m sure will be appealed by Google. I seriously doubt that Google is going to turn over the user data.
Still, this ruling is a substantial one and it’s not the lat that we’ve heard about this. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out the Thundercats movie. Hopefully Viacom doesn’t come knocking at your door. Ryan Singel at Wired highlights that Google’s own defense in prior court cases was used against them. That prior defense was that “IP addresses of computers aren’t personally revealing in and of themselves, against it to justify the log dump.”
The one win by Google was the ability to stop Viacom from forcing the company to hand over YouTube’s source code. This is still a massive loss for privacy advocates though.