YouTube to Disclose Users in Viacom Lawsuit

Google Inc, which owns YouTube, has been ordered by a US judge to turn over user data which sparked an outcry on Thursday from privacy advocates.

Viacom requested the information as part of its $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against the popular online video service and its deep-pocketed parent, Google.

The judge, Louis Stanton, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered Google on Tuesday to turn over as evidence a database with usernames of YouTube viewers, what videos they watched when, and users’ computer addresses.

The court order has prompted an outcry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and it “threatens to expose deeply private information” and violated the Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 federal law passed after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental habits were revealed.

Viacom, which owns movie studio Paramount and MTV Networks, responded in a statement that it needs the data to demonstrate video piracy patterns that are the heart of its case against YouTube. However, it sought to diffuse privacy fears, saying it had no interest in identifying individual users.