Viacom won't be told the identities of individuals who watch video clips on the popular video-sharing site YouTube.
Viacom and other copyright holders have agreed to let YouTube mask user IDs
and Internet addresses when Google's online video site hands over
viewership records in a $1 billion lawsuit accusing YouTube of enabling
copyright infringement. A federal judge ordered the database produced in a
July 1 ruling widely criticized by privacy activists.
"We remain committed to protecting your privacy and we'll continue to fight
for your right to share and broadcast your work on YouTube," the company said
in a blog posting late Monday disclosing the agreement.
Viacom is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from Google, saying YouTube
built its business by infringing copyrights on Viacom show.
The YouTube database includes information on when each video gets played.
Attached to each entry is each viewer's unique login ID and the IP address for that viewer's computer.
But lawyers for Viacom and the other plaintiffs signed an agreement with
YouTube on Monday saying they would accept measures to help YouTube preserve
the anonymity of the records. Under the agreement, YouTube can swap the user
logins and IP addresses with other, presumably anonymous signifiers; YouTube
has a week to propose its method.
The YouTube data would not be publicly released, but disclosed only to the
plaintiffs, likely under a court-sanctioned confidentiality order. Viacom
also has pledged not to use the data to identify individual users to sue.