Post Process

Everything to do with E-discovery & ESI

Case Blurb: YouTube; Court Grants Motion to Compel Production of 12 TB Database, Dismisses User’s Privacy Concerns

Posted by rjbiii on August 12, 2008

Video-Related Data from the Logging Database

Defendants’ “Logging” database contains, for each instance a video is watched, the unique “login ID” of the user who watched it, the time when the user started to watch the video, the internet protocol address other devices connected to the internet use to identify the user’s computer (“IP address”), and the identifier for the video. That database (which is stored on live computer hard drives) is the only existing record of how often each video has been viewed during various time periods. Its data can “recreate the number of views for any particular day of a video.” Plaintiffs seek 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.

They need the data to compare the attractiveness of allegedly infringing videos with that of non-infringing videos. A markedly higher proportion of infringing-video watching may bear on plaintiffs’ vicarious liability claim, n3 and defendants’ substantial non-infringing use defense.

Defendants argue generally that plaintiffs’ request is unduly burdensome because producing the enormous amount of information in the Logging database (about 12 terabytes of data) “would be expensive and time-consuming, particularly in light of the need to examine the contents for privileged and work product material.”

But defendants do not specifically refute that “There is no need to engage in a detailed privilege review of the logging database, since it simply records the numbers of views for each video uploaded to the YouTube website, and the videos watched by each user.” While the Logging database is large, all of its contents can be copied onto a few “over-the-shelf” four-terabyte hard drives. Plaintiffs’ need for the data outweighs the unquantified and unsubstantiated cost of producing that information.

Defendants argue that the data should not be disclosed because of the users’ privacy concerns, saying that “Plaintiffs would likely be able to determine the viewing and video uploading habits of YouTube’s users based on the user’s login ID and the user’s IP address.”

But defendants cite no authority barring them from disclosing such information in civil discovery proceedings, FN5 and their privacy concerns are speculative. Defendants do not refute that the “login ID is an anonymous pseudonym that users create for themselves when they sign up with YouTube” which without more “cannot identify specific individuals, and Google has elsewhere stated:

We . . . are strong supporters of the idea that data protection laws should apply to any data that could identify you. The reality is though that in most cases, an IP address without additional information cannot.

FN5: The statute defendants point to, 18 U.S.C. § 2710 (titled “Wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records”), prohibits video tape service providers from disclosing information on the specific video materials subscribers request or obtain, and in the case they cite, In re Grand Jury Subpoena to Amazon.com, 246 F.R.D. 570, 572-73 (W.D.Wis. 2007) (the “subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their prior knowledge or permission”), the court on First Amendment grounds did not require an internet book retailer to disclose the identities of customers who purchased used books from the grand jury’s target, a used book seller under investigation for tax evasion and wire and mail fraud in connection with his sale of used books through the retailer’s website.

Therefore, 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.

Viacom Int’l Inc. v. YouTube Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50614 at *15-19 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2008 ).

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