YouTube shared user data with studio lawyers

In what really shouldn’t be that big a surprise, it has been reported that YouTube provided personal information about a user to a Hollywood film studio:

On May 24, lawyers for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures convinced a federal judge in San Francisco to issue a subpoena requiring YouTube to turn over details about a user who uploaded dialog from the movie studio’s “Twin Towers,” according to a copy of the document.

YouTube promptly handed over the data to Paramount, which on June 16 sued the creator of the 12-minute clip, New York City-based filmmaker Chris Moukarbel, for copyright infringement, in federal court in Washington.

…Its prompt legal capitulation suggests that YouTube users who post copyrighted material should not expect the company to protect them from media-business lawsuits, said [an IP lawyer].

Yes, YouTube has a vast amount of information about its users identities & habits (which will soon be the property of Google). And, like most websites, their privacy policy states they will “release personally identifiable information…if required to do so by law, or in the good-faith belief that such action is necessary to…respond to a court order, subpoena, or search warrant.”

The issue here is to what extent web site owners will fight legal requests for user information. Did YouTube consider fighting the subpoena? Will Google?

(FYI, my privacy policy states that “Any subpoena or attempts by government agencies or private sector organizations to gain access to any information that you give us will be vigorously challenged to the best of our abilities.” The limiting factor being my bank account.)

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