In yet another case of judiciary run amok, the Viacom v. Google case is really turning ugly for lovers of individual liberties. The story in a nutshell is as such:
Michael Arrington makes an excellent point at TechCrunch:
But perhaps one of his bright young clerks or interns could have told him that (1) handing over user names and a list of videos they’ve watched to a highly litigious copyright holder is extremely likely to result in lawsuits against those users that have watched copyrighted content on YouTube, and (2) YouTube’s source code is about as valuable as the hard drive it would be delivered on, since the core Flash technology is owned by Adobe and there are countless YouTube clones out there, most of which offer higher quality video.
YouTube’s core value is in it’s network effect – the library of content along with its massive user base.
The ramifications of this precedent aren’t clear yet, but it could mean that other companies could be forced to both store and be ready to hand over private data if any other companies sees an infringement of its copyrights. While I view copyright is important, it isn’t worth giving strategic enemies — fiscal or otherwise — another way to track movements of people.
There is one positive to take from this ruling. Since we know that people will continue to use whatever means to get the truth out, companies will have to learn to use strategies that both help them make money and keep their users alive.