Viacom (and Comcast while we’re at it) — please crawl under a rock and die!

YouTube has been ordered by a New York Federal Judge to hand over viewing data that includes how often users watch videos, how much time they spend doing it, their Username and their Internet Protocol addresses.

Viacom demanded to review all of YouTube's logging information to prove that copyrighted clips are more popular than amateur videos on the site.

His dis-Honorable sagaciousness declared:

For every video on YouTube, [he] required Google to turn over to Viacom the login name of every user who had watched it, and the address of their computer, known as an I.P. or Internet protocol address.

When Google argued that:

"We see no reason why Viacom and the other plaintiffs seek or require such information," Google said in a letter filed with the court. "Given plaintiffs' stated reason for seeking information from the logging database … potentially personal identifiable information should be irrelevant." 

The right dis-Honorable Judge Stanton said in his ruling:

“A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim, and defendants’ substantial noninfringing use defense”

Consider this:

The amount of data covered by the order is staggering, as it includes every video watched on YouTube since its founding in 2005. In April alone, 82 million people in the United States watched 4.1 billion clips there, according to comScore. Some experts say virtually every Internet user has visited YouTube. 

Why? you ask yourself, would Viacom need such detailed information on viewers, just to make their case?

Viacom wants the viewing data in part to help it determine the extent to which YouTube’s success was built on the popularity of copyrighted clips that were illegally posted to the site.

"oh, I get it" and yet Google continues to reason with Viacom's lawyers:

In a letter sent Thursday, Google’s lawyers pressed their counterparts at Viacom to accept a more limited set of data. “We request that plaintiffs agree that YouTube may redact user names and I.P. addresses from the viewing data in the interests of protecting user privacy,” wrote David H. Kramer, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

“Users should have the right to challenge and contest the production of this deeply private information,” said Kurt Opsahl, senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online civil liberties group.

That right is protected by the federal Video Privacy Protection Act, Mr. Opsahl added. Congress passed that law in 1988 to protect video rental records, after a newspaper disclosed the rental habits of Robert H. Bork, then a Supreme Court nominee.

Here's where the Judge becomes a stand-up guy:

While the judge said Viacom has a legitimate need for the users' information, he rejected Viacom's requests for Google to disclose its search engine source code.

I'm just sayin', WTF? Slippery slope.

Sources:  sfgate   NYT