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Case Blurb: YouTube; Court Denies Motion to Compel Production of Source Code for Video ID Program

Posted by rjbiii on August 12, 2008

Plaintiffs also move to compel production of another undisputed trade secret, the computer source code for the newly invented “Video ID” program. Using that program, copyright owners may furnish YouTube with video reference samples, which YouTube will use to search for and locate video clips in its library which have characteristics sufficiently matching those of the samples as to suggest infringement. That program’s source code is the product of “approximately 50,000 man hours of engineering time and millions of dollars of research and development costs”, and maintaining its confidentiality is essential to prevent others from creating competing programs without any equivalent investment, and to bar users who wish to post infringing content onto YouTube.com from learning ways to trick the Video ID program and thus “escape detection.”

Plaintiffs claim that they need production of the Video ID source code to demonstrate what defendants “could be doing — but are not — to control infringement” with the Video ID program. However, plaintiffs can learn how the Video ID program works from use and observation of its operation, and examination of pending patent applications, documentation and white papers regarding Video ID (id.), all of which are available to them. If there is a way to write a program that can identify and thus control infringing videos, plaintiffs are free to demonstrate it, with or without reference to the way the Video ID program works. But the question is what infringement detection operations are possible, not how the Video ID source code makes it operate as it does. The notion that examination of the source code might suggest how to make a better method of infringement detection is speculative. Considered against its value and secrecy, plaintiffs have not made a sufficient showing of need for its disclosure.

Therefore, the motion to compel production of the Video ID code is denied.

Viacom Int’l Inc. v. YouTube Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50614, 11-13 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2008 )

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Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Discovery Requests, Duty to Produce, Judge Louis L. Stanton, Objections to Discovery Requests, Relevance, S.D.N.Y, Scope of Discovery, Technology, Tools, Trade Secrets | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: YouTube; Denying Motion Compelling the Production of Source Code to Opponents

Posted by rjbiii on August 12, 2008

Plaintiffs move jointly pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 to compel [Defendants] to produce certain electronically stored information and documents, including a critical trade secret: the computer source code which controls both the YouTube.com search function and Google’s internet search tool “Google.com”. [Defendants] cross-move pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c) for a protective order barring disclosure of that search code, which they contend is responsible for Google’s growth “from its founding in 1998 to a multi-national presence with more than 16,000 employees and a market valuation of roughly $ 150 billion”, and cannot be disclosed without risking the loss of the business. Viacom Int’l Inc. v. YouTube Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50614, 7-8 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2008 ) (internal citations removed).

YouTube and Google maintain that “no source code in existence today can distinguish between infringing and non-infringing video clips — certainly not without the active participation of rights holders”, and Google engineer Amitabh Singhal declares under penalty of perjury that:

The search function employed on the YouTube website was not, in any manner, designed or modified to facilitate the location of allegedly infringing materials. The purpose of the YouTube search engine is to allow users to find videos they are looking for by entering text-based search terms. In some instances, the search service suggests search terms when there appears to be a misspelling entered by the user and attempts to distinguish between search terms with multiple meanings. Those functions are automated algorithms that run across Google’s services and were not designed to make allegedly infringing video clips more prominent in search results than non-infringing video clips. Indeed, Google has never sought to increase the rank or visibility of allegedly infringing material over non-infringing material when developing its search services.

Id. at *9-10 (internal citations removed).

Plaintiffs argue that the best way to determine whether those denials are true is to compel production and examination of the search code. Nevertheless, YouTube and Google should not be made to place this vital asset in hazard merely to allay speculation. A plausible showing that YouTube and Google’s denials are false, and that the search function can and has been used to discriminate in favor of infringing content, should be required before disclosure of so valuable and vulnerable an asset is compelled.

Nor do plaintiffs offer evidence supporting their conjecture that the YouTube.com search function might be adaptable into a program which filters out infringing videos. Plaintiffs wish to “demonstrate what Defendants have not done but could have” to prevent infringements, (plaintiffs’ italics), but there may be other ways to show that filtering technology is feasible FN2 and reasonably could have been put in place. Id. at *10 (internal citations removed).

FN2: In the Viacom action:

Viacom is currently using fingerprinting technology provided by a company called Auditude in order to identify potentially infringing clips of Viacom’s copyrighted works on the YouTube website. The fingerprinting technology automatically creates digital “fingerprints” of the audio track of videos currently available on the YouTube website and compares those fingerprints against a reference library of digital fingerprints of Viacom’s copyrighted works. As this comparison is made, the fingerprinting technology reports fingerprint matches, which indicate that the YouTube clip potentially infringes one of Viacom’s copyrighted works.

Finally, the protections set forth in the stipulated confidentiality order are careful and extensive, but nevertheless not as safe as nondisclosure. There is no occasion to rely on them, without a preliminary proper showing justifying production of the search code.

Therefore, the cross-motion for a protective order is granted and the motion to compel production of the search code is denied. Id. at *11.

Posted in 2nd Circuit, Case Blurbs, Discovery Requests, Duty to Produce, FRCP 26(c), FRCP 37, Judge Louis L. Stanton, Objections to Discovery Requests, Relevance, S.D.N.Y, Scope of Discovery, Search Engine Technology, Source Code, Technology, Tools, Trade Secrets | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Younessi; Court Weighs Trade Secrets’ need for Secrecy vs. Discovery’s Need for Disclosure

Posted by rjbiii on July 3, 2008

[Producing Party] claims that production of its hard drives would necessarily reveal its trade secrets. Trade secrets have long been recognized as property. Because of their fleeting nature, once trade secrets are disclosed to outside parties they lose their value and the property right is extinguished. The Court recognizes [Producing Party’s] interest in keeping its trade secrets out of the public eye, and particularly away from its competitors.

[Requesting Party’s] request for [such records] are highly relevant. Even if [Producing Party] cannot reasonably produce the actual content of communications, [Requesting Party] could use records produced which indicate dates and times of communications for purposes of deposition and cross examination. Given the nature of [Requesting Party’s] allegations, it is reasonable to assume that none of the witnesses to such communications will be forthcoming in testifying without some of the information sought through discovery to direct their questioning. This meets the “good cause” standard.

Daimler Truck N. Am. LLC v. Younessi, 2008 WL 2519845 at *2 (W.D. Wash. June 20, 2008 )

Posted in 9th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Duty to Disclose, Duty to Produce, Good Cause, Judge Ronald B. Leighton, Objections to Discovery Requests, Trade Secrets, W.D. Wash. | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »