The federal court for the Southern District of New York has ordered (pdf) Google to release to Viacom all data (4 TB) it has about YouTube viewers: viewer IP address, viewer “name” (assuming a YouTube profile with accurate info), and clips watched (on YouTube.com or as an embed). [Wired, EFF, tip]
Viacom is suing Google, arguing that “infringing material is more popular than user-created videos.” EFF argues that the judge’s ruling is a violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act:
[T]he act refers to “prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials.” A YouTube video may not be a videotape, but certainly qualifies as audio visual material. Thus, YouTube is a “video tape service provider” under the act, because it is “engaged in the business [of] delivery of … audio visual materials.” The VPPA protects “personally identifiable information,” which is defined to include “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services.” This is exactly what is in the Logging database.
Accordingly, pursuant to this federal law, the Court may not order the production of “personally identifiable information”
I immediately tested anonymizer websites, to see if it’s possible to watch YouTube clips with IP address masked. No go on the two I tried, anonymizer.nntime.com and hidemyass.com. Flash does not work. :-/
My advice: time to create a YouTube account with no personally identifiable information. And perhaps someone can create a mass viewing effort for non-network content. Like this favorite:
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