Who’s watching what?

This morning’s Observer column

On 2 July, a US district judge, Louis L Stanton, lobbed a grenade into the cosy world of social networking, user-generated content and so-called ‘cloud’ computing. He ordered Google to turn over to Viacom all of its logs relating to viewing of YouTube video clips since the search engine giant acquired the video hosting site in November 2006.

That amounts to 12 terabytes (or more than 12 million megabytes) of data: each log entry records the user name and IP (machine) address of the user who viewed the video, plus a timestamp and a code identifying the clip. What the judgment means is that if you have watched a YouTube clip at any time since November 2006, a record of that will be passed to Viacom’s lawyers…

UPDATE: This from CNET:

Viacom wants to know which videos YouTube employees have watched and uploaded to the site, and Google is refusing to provide that information, CNET News has learned.

This dispute is the reason the two companies, and lawyers representing a group of other copyright holders suing Google, have failed to reach a final agreement on anonymizing personal information belonging to YouTube users, according to two sources close to the situation.