Once again, copyright holders are trying to unmask who uploaded a potentially infringing video clip to YouTube.
This time it's Magnolia Pictures, a film distributor owned by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, the billionaire co-founders of Broadcast.com. Magnolia released the Academy Award-nominated documentary Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room, which has a bad habit of appearing on video-sharing sites.
Hence the subpoena to Google, which a federal court in Texas issued on Tuesday. It asks for information on how to identify the person who uploaded three videos (two on Google Video and one on YouTube).
On YouTube, at least, the username of the uploader is "halifaxion," who seems to focus on uploading video clips airing alternative explanations of what happened to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Once Magnolia is given the information that Google possesses about "halifaxion" (and it almost certainly will), the movie distributor will have the option of filing a lawsuit against that person.
As a side note, it's possible that some video-sharing sites might not keep records of users' Internet addresses. One video upload happened on October 19, 2006, and some sites could discard the address information after three months or so. A proposal from the U.S. Justice Department would change those data retention requirements and force Web sites to keep upload data for two years. The ostensible purpose is to fight terrorism and child pornography and all that, of course, but a side benefit would be to help copyright holders track infringements.
This isn't the first time that Google has been hit by a subpoena invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which permits copyright holders to find out the identities of infringers without filing a lawsuit. American Airlines sent a DMCA subpoena to Google and YouTube a year ago.