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YouTube forced to disclose details -

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YouTube forced to disclose details

The World Today - Friday, 4 July , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the outrage over a court ruling in the United States that has forced the
internet giant Google to hand over the details of every user who has ever watched a video on

Google owns the video sharing website but has been engaged in a billion dollar legal battle with
the US entertainment company, Viacom, over alleged copyright breaches.

Now a US judge has ordered Google to give Viacom the log-in names and other details of all YouTube

Privacy advocates and internet user groups say this is a massive invasion of privacy that could
lead to a deluge of lawsuits.

Jennifer Macey reports.

(Excerpt from YouTube video)

MALE: I am wearing my pimp hat today because I am going to pimp my YouTubers.

(End excerpt)

JENNIFER MACEY: YouTube was originally set up so that anyone with a home movie camera can post
their own videos on the internet.

But the popular site has expanded to include music videos, scenes from films and television series
and news programs.

(Excerpt from YouTube video)

ACTOR: It changed things - forever.

(End excerpt)

JENNIFER MACEY: Videos that fall under copyright restrictions.

Now a court in the US has ordered that all the details of every video clip seen on YouTube be
handed to the entertainment company, Viacom, owner of MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures.

Rob Pegoraro, the personal technology columnist at the Washington Post, says this amounts to a lot
of data.

ROB PEGORARO: The best way to illustrate it, Google says we are talking about 12 terabytes of
information. Most of it is an internet protocol address, anumerical ID that is assigned to any
computer on the internet. An IP address can in some cases, in other cases cannot identify a person.

JENNIFER MACEY: The court ruling has triggered a massive outcry among internet users around the

ALAN DAVIDSON: It is one of the greatest, if not greatest, invasions of privacy that I have ever

JENNIFER MACEY: Dr Alan Davidson specialises in electronic commerce law at the University of

He says this ruling has been made as part of a pre-trial arrangement in the $1-billion lawsuit
Viacom is taking against the owner of YouTube, Google, over copyright infringement.

ALAN DAVIDSON: This is a discovery process, a fishing expedition. So they have gone to court and
said, "We need more information. We have grounds to get this information because we certainly are
certain or suspect great breaches of copyright, therefore we would like to get a discovery audit to
get this information".

But my guess is that it is much broader and all encompassing than they ever suspected.

JENNIFER MACEY: Privacy groups fear the ruling could set a dangerous precedent that could trigger a
whole set of lawsuits against individuals who watch a video on YouTube.

The chairman of Electronic Frontiers Foundation Australia, Dale Clapperton, says he's disappointed
with the decision.

DALE CLAPPERTON: It is potentially a very major invasion of the privacy of users of YouTube and for
that matter, these logs could be used to start an orgy of litigation against YouTube users for
allegedly accessing infringing material on there.

JENNIFER MACEY: Some experts say an entertainment giant would have little to gain financially by
suing individual users for copyright breaches.

But Dr Alan Davidson says Viacom may go after individuals to set an example.

ALAN DAVIDSON: And then that can scare off thousands of users to say well if they are going to
target that person, then I am in danger so maybe I will stop using YouTube and it has been the
habit in the music industry, when they target Napster and Kazaa to not only go after the big users
but to go after some of the small users and then advertise that to scare away a lot of people from
downloading music and videos.

JENNIFER MACEY: Although the ruling has been made in a US court, it could affect the millions
around the world who watch YouTube.

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro says it will change the way some people use the site

ROB PEGORARO: Depends largely on what happens next. Does Google appeal? Myself, I certainly hope
they will. Does another court strike down this ruling or undo part of it? You know, you can watch
YouTube without logging in or you can watch it by logging in. I don't know if I would want to
bother logging in it.

JENNIFER MACEY: And that's what worries Dr Davidson who just yesterday set up a YouTube log-in name
for himself and his children.

ALAN DAVIDSON: I think it has gone way too far. It does impact on myself and my children who are
members of YouTube and have looked at YouTube. It impacts millions of people.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Dr Alan Davidson from the University of Queensland law faculty, ending that
report by Jennifer Macey.