12 terabytes of YouTube data

12 terabytes of YouTube data

Summary: A lot of us block YouTube access in our schools. There's plenty of objectionable content worth hiding from young eyes.


A lot of us block YouTube access in our schools. There's plenty of objectionable content worth hiding from young eyes. Probably an equal number of us, however, leave it open at the request of teachers who use its vast resources for teaching (yes, there is more than zit popping and skate videos on YouTube) or because it's an easy way for kids to share content they create at home and at school.

So in comes media giant Viacom, alleging that huge amounts of MTV and Paramount movie content are illegally floating about YouTube. While Google implemented copyright filtering tools on YouTube in response to the suit, a federal court ruled that Google still needed to turn over 12 terabytes of usage data to Viacom. According to a BBC article on the issue,

The viewing log, which will be handed to Viacom, contains the log-in ID of users, the computer IP address (online identifier) and video clip details.

While the legal battle between the two firms is being contested in the US, it is thought the ruling will apply to YouTube users and their viewing habits everywhere.

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but a lot of people watch videos on YouTube. While Viacom claims that it only wants the logs to determine if more people, in the aggregate, watch videos that infringe on copyrights than original materials, there is nothing to stop Viacom from using the data RIAA-style to go after users.

What if teachers in your schools showed a video they found on YouTube that contained content from an MTV broadcast? Or a documentary produced by a Viacom property? This is not a call I want to receive:

Hello, this is Ima Sleasylawyer. I represent Viacom. We have records associating your school's IP address with 8,397 viewings of materials that infringe on Viacom copyrights. We will be forwarding you the logs and need you to produce user documentation.

Nice. Chances are we won't get any calls like this, but it does beg the question, "Can we justify leaving YouTube unblocked in the face of potential litigation?" I'm not sure of the answer. If it's just keeping kids from watching raunchy videos, I don't mind leaving that to teachers supervising their classes. If it comes to teachers unwittingly showing videos that infringe on copyrights (maybe even videos created by students), then I'm a bit more uncomfortable about exposing teachers and the district to that level of potential liability. What do you think?

Topic: Social Enterprise

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Horrible loss for Consumers

    This Judge needs to be taught what he has the power to do, and not to do. This is a clear violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act. Not to mention a major privacy issue for all of us that have ever watched a YouTube video. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already responded saying as much. Hopefully the Judge will be overridden.
  • Also in the phone call...

    "We need your attendance records for all the days on which these (so-called) infringements took place. If twenty-three students were in the class room at the time the video was shown, that will equal twenty-three cases of infringement and we'll be seeking compensation based on those calculations. Thank you and have a nice day."
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    unbelieveably stupid.

    i hope you tube appeals this.

    until they do i'm not stepping any where near you tube and its blocked at home and at work from now on.
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    There are a whole lot of teachers out there who have figured out how to download great YouTube teaching material ONCE and then save it for use during class. My only hope is that watching it once or twice (according to usage stats) isn't enough to tip them off about the usage of downloaded videos over and over in class.
    This indeed bears watching.
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    Ding dong ... the witch is dead!

    ... or at least she is starting to melt!

    Wow ... I would say this is very good news to the entire copyright industry. While potentially inconvenient to YouTube viewers, and understanding the importance of privacy protection in the complex world of the Internet these days, this decision by the judge in the Viacom v. Google/YouTube case may be the best thing that has happened to the copyright industries in this country, and to our overall economy, in practically a decade.

    I have been following this case, and others like it, now for several years. I, for one, am sick and tired of the Google's of the world blaming their own customers for all of the infringing activity that occurs day in and day out over the Google sponsored networks. Who do you think gains the most financially from these obvious infringements - Google or the poor smuck in Louisville who does not have a clue what is right or wrong, let alone what is infringing and what is not?

    In fact, if it is true that an individual typically adapts his or her production and viewing habits from what they see and are taught by the larger media, entertainment, Fortune 500, and technology companies in this country ("if this weren't legal, certainly mighty Google wouldn't encourage it as they do or run AdSense ads on the infringing sites, and Exxon/Mobile wouldn't be placing ads on the sites that are displaying the "shared" works, either".

    It is an unfortunate reality today that many of the copyright defense lawyers, and their clients out to make the big bucks regardless of the rules, have made a mockery of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA), which was signed into law in 1998 by President Clinton. Like the music industry has learned in the school of hard knocks (aka "the real world"), it is virtually impossible today to hold the middlemen in these unlawful distribution channels and networks accountable. So, what do the copyright companies have to do to protect their valuable property? Go directly after the often innocent "end users" who are often sucked into this game, more often unknowingly than not. It is shameful.

    Perhaps this New York court decision will help to turn those tides.

    Google enables widespread copyright infringement activity like no other company on this planet. Google subsidizes entire networks of infringers through it Adwords and AdSense marketing and advertising programs. Google facilitates willful copyright infringement. Google enables widespread copyright infringement. Day in and day out. Google causes enormous damages to legitimate copyright holders every second of every single day. Google has been doing this for years. They earn a substantial portion of their overall revenue and profits by sponsoring illegal activities over the Internet. And their operations outside the U.S. are far more egregious than the infringement activity we see referenced in this Viacom case, which is largely within our borders.

    I, for one, have had enough. Baseless, if not ludicrous excuses and piracy defense strategies, implemented by what used to be some of the finest copyright law firms in this country, - "fair use", "safe harbor", "no harm", "unclean hands", "de minimus damage", "copyright misuse", "DMCA safeguards", "willful blindness", "laches", and on and on - haven't we seen it all?

    What do they all mean in Google's true vernacular? How about this. "We are big. We are powerful. We can do anything we damn well please. Quit complaining, copyright owners, or we'll cut you off from all the online revenues streams, as well". Better yet, "... if you don't conform, we'll simply run some of this stuff from our operations in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (those BRICS have plenty of money), and let them beam it all back here to the states."

    Aren't you tired of watching Google hide behind the skirt-tails of their customers. "They were the ones who loaded the illegal videos onto our system, not us." Or , better yet, "how were we to know that Bart Simpson wasn't already in the 'Public Domain'?"

    Is Google alone in this? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, and others are moving as fast as they can to mimic and duplicate Google's cash cow system, whether the law is violated or not. Cash is the king. And copyrights from the creative industries are not the only victims. Haven't you seen lately, similar claims (and penalties) levied against these giant Internet companies for their advertising efforts to support, or even subsidize in many cases, the distribution of harmful pharmaceutical drugs and counterfeits over the Internet, sponsor illegal gambling and pornography web sites, and many others too numerous to mention. Billions and billions and billions of dollars every single month.

    "What do you expect us to do, your honor. Try out every single drug our customers illegally deliver just because we provide the advertising revenues for them to survive?"

    This activity not only helps to destroy our economy, it breaks down the moral fiber of our society. What makes you think this young generation that has grown up witnessing these wide scale unlawful activities delivered to them (usually "free of charge") via the Internet, will be able to draw a distinction between the virtual world and the physical world where STEALING in concerned as they get older and have to put food on a table full of their own babies and elderly parents? The jury is still out on that one.

    I applaud the nerve, and the intelligence, of the judge up there in New York who presides over this case between Google and Viacom. Maybe your recent ruling will cause all of these Internet parasites to wake up and see the error of their ways before it is too late for all of us.

    As a pleasant footnote to copyright holders. Do you think the judge would have allowed the complete user logs of YouTube to be released in this case if the outcome of this case was not leaning in Viacom's direction? I certainly do not. This may, indeed, be one of the most important weeks in the history of protecting the original works of copyright owners in this country ... one of the few absolute rights that was guaranteed to all of us in our Constitution over 200 years ago.

    Congratulations New York. Congratulations copyright holders. It must feel good to know you have some judges up that way who have your best interests at heart in enforcing our critically important (and "endangered") copyright laws and maintaining the delicate balance between managing and policing unbridled growth (i.e. "growth at ANY cost") over the Internet and maintaining our vital and long standing ethical, moral, and legal business practices going forward, while looking out for your best interests.

    ... which old witch ... the wicked witch!

    George P. Riddick, III
    Imageline, Inc.

    • What a tool you are!

      What a tool you are!
    • wow. You think Elvis plays "The Devil's Music" too?

      What a rant. "The Internet ... is destroying the moral fibre of our kids"? I bet you think Elvis played the Devil's Music as well.

      I'm glad you're not president in China; they'd have even less internet than they do now. What you're asking for is complete and utterly ruthless, intimate involvement by private companies in every aspect of Internet users' every move. You want Google to inspect every website, on a continual basis, that they publish Ads to? You'd need trillions of dollars and millions of people to carry out the workload you suggest. Not only that, it would completely bring the internet under the iron-fisted control of a few powerful global companies.

      Perhaps your company is one of those? Or maybe you're simply too old to be able to figure out how the information age we live in now works? I can't answer that question; however it's clear to me that your grasp of the magnitude of what you ask for is clearly outside of your comprehension. I think you actually believe the level of intervention, and constant monitoring you wish, is as easily achievable as Harry Potter waving his magic wand? *poof* "Oh look! The government is censoring every netizen now!"

      Next on your list you'll be calling for Newspeak and Thought Crime.
    • The constitution says 7 years for copyright

      I take it you want that limit reimposed?
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    I'm sure that they really need all that user data; that is ridiculous...
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    What do I think? I think Viacom can screw themselves. I watch a 4 minute clip of David Cook's performance on American Idol and I should be worried about MY personal information being handed over to a multi-billion dollar corporation like Viacom? Like I said, they can screw themselves. I'll watch what I want to watch on the internet that I pay for, and I'll let anyone share what they want to share with me, just as I did when made copies of cassette tapes for friends and nobody thought twice about it.

    I'm a worker who's income teeters precariously on the verge of poverty, my comments speak not only for what I think of Viacom, but what I think of this nation as a whole.
  • RE: 12 terabytes of YouTube data

    I would expect that user's viewing would not be illegal. The user who put the video up, however, would have another issue.

    I, as a viewing user, can reasonably expect that the uploading user followed guidelines in Youtube about uploading copyrigthed content. Furthermore, Youtube has a system in place to remove videos that violate copyrights, so that videos that are left can, again, be reasonably expected to conform to copyright laws.

    It would be impossible for a person viewing video, or for that matter reading a web page, to ensure that the material was published wihout copyright violations.

    Just think- I go to CNN.COM and read a story. Can I possibly be expected to verify that CNN.COM has the rights to print that story? No, I must assume that they can. Same with watching a youtube video. Actually, it's the same with your TV show or newspaper. It's up the the paper to be sure they have the right to publish each story, or picture or whatever.

    It's up the the publishers (CNN.COM, Youtube, Users who upload content to any web page or blog, etc.) to make sure the material is conforming to copyright laws.