Viacom-YouTube Case: Google Doesn’t Have To Reveal Innermost Secrets

Viacom’s (NYSE: VIA) $1 billion YouTube copyright suit may have gone quiet in recent months, but it picked up again on Tuesday when Google (NSDQ: GOOG) was handed two partial victories…

Manhattan district judge Louis L. Stanton granted Google a protective order meaning it doesn’t have to hand over its key search source code, which Viacom had wanted to use to illustrate a lack of copyright filters but which Google successfully argued was a trade secret, DJ reports. He also turned down Viacom’s request for the algorithm to YouTube’s Video Identification, which encourages content owners to supply information to help track infringements.

Stanton said Viacom showed no evidence that the search algorithm “can discriminate between infringing and non-infringing video”: “YouTube and Google should not be made to place this vital asset in hazard merely to allay speculation.” Though that that looks like it’s not going so well for Viacom, the judge did make several other rulings in its favour… YouTube must cough up all the infringing videos it has removed, it must present video popularity logs and it must show its database schema (ie. what kinds of info YouTube stores).

This all boils down to Viacom wanting to know what info YouTube stores and how (or, if) it roots out copyrighted material. In the background – the UK’s Premier League and music publisher Bourne Co., which have also sued are are seeking class-action status with Viacom.

Updated: Responding to web outcry today on the compulsion YouTube must reveal access logs, Viacom said it “has not asked for and will not be obtaining any personally identifiable information of any user”.

Here’s the judge’s ruling in full…