The BBC reports that a court has just ruled that Google hand over details of every video ever watched on YouTube to Viacom. Yes , you read correctly, every video ever watched. But most importantly details of every viewer (including IP addresses) are also to be handed over.
Viacomís dispute with Google centres around unlicensed MTV music video clips on YouTube / Viacom getting leverage to get a better deal (inc equity stake?) for licensing content to YouTube (delete as appropriate depending on your degree of cynicism). But this disclosure of user information adds a new twist. Are Viacom planning an RIAA style campaign against the heavy uploaders of infringing content and subpoenaing billing address from ISPs? Currently they claim they have no interest in doing so. But if they did, or if another content owner with unresolved claims (e.g. the UKís Football Premier League) similarly pursued the information in order to pursue individuals the implications could be big for YouTube. YouTube has done a really good job of transitioning towards legitimacy, despite the fact that there is still widespread un-licensed professional content on its site. It doesnít look or feel like an illegal content destination to users and its corporate parentage, numerous content licenses and established relationships with many content owners certainly give it significant legitimacy. But, if YouTube users start finding themselves subject to the same sort of legal action as Kazaa users, the site could start feeling very different to consumers.