News: Ever since the Google-YouTube deal, a number of media have written critical articles of YouTube, suggesting that it may be turning off users. In MarketWatch, Ben Charney seems to suggest something sinister in his article “YouTube shared user data with studio lawyers.” The article prompted Computerworld to write a blog post entitled “Has YouTube gone over to the dark side?”
Analysis: This kind of sensationalistic reporting is way offbase. The May 2006 incident which Charney describes involved a court subpoena requiring YouTube to reveal the identity of an alleged copyright infringer. Under Section 512(h) of the Copyright Act, YouTube was required to comply with the court’s subpoena.
Although Charney got some lawyer to say that “YouTube seems to have given up too quickly,” that statement appears to be sheer nonsense. I haven’t seen the subpoena, but the description of it (targeted at one person) makes it hard to imagine any grounds for objection. Section 512(h) of the Copyright Act was set up precisely for this purpose. Here, in fact, the guy who was the target of the subpoena later admitted to copyright infringement and settled.
UPDATE: Thankfully, someone else in the press who knows some copyright law has agreed with me and refuted MarketWatch’s exaggerated story. Nate Anderson of ArsTechnica writes YouTube names names: why is anyone surprised?