Melbourne, July 3 : A District Court judge has ordered YouTube to hand over the details of each clip watched on the website-along with the date, time, and IP address of each user who watched the clips-to media giant Viacom.
Judge Louis Stanton granted Viacom access to the records as part of its ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit against Google, and its subsidiary YouTube.
Whenever a YouTube user watches a video, the website's "Logging" database records the user ID and IP address of the viewer, as well as the date and time of the request and the ID of the clip.
During the hearing, Google claimed the providing the data would be very difficult for them because they had a huge database, but the judge did not accept that argument.
"While the Logging database is large, all of its contents can be copied onto a few 'over-the-shelf' four-terabyte hard drives," News.com.au quoted Judge Stanton as saying.
"The motion to compel production of all data from the Logging database concerning each time a YouTube video has been viewed on the YouTube website or through embedding on a third-party website is granted," the judge added.
Through this database, Viacom wanted to prove that clips that allegedly infringe copyright-like scenes from TV shows and movies-were more popular than user-generated videos.
It is believed that the court's ruling may have major implications for online privacy across the world.
Online rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation branded the decision a "setback to privacy rights", saying that it was at odds with US privacy laws.
"The court's order grants Viacom's request and erroneously ignores the protections of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), and threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users," said a statement on the group's website.
"We urge Viacom to back off this overbroad request and Google to take all steps necessary to challenge this order and protect the rights of its users," the statement added.
Judge Stanton has, however, turned down Viacom's requests for access to the Google search engine's source code, including the algorithms that it uses to provide search results.
So far, there is no report on whether Google will challenge the decision.