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Google to Viacom: 'Respect YouTube users' privacy'

In copyright case, Google is glad information Viacom will get to see during discovery is limited, but it's "disappointed" Viacom will get access to users' viewing history.

Viacom is getting its hands on some of YouTube's sensitive user data as a result of the copyright infringement lawsuit the conglomerate filed a year ago.

The two companies are in the discovery part of the case and must make certain information available to each other. On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Google must turn over YouTube user activity--videos watched, IP addresses, and usernames.

Google responded on Thursday in a statement to the court's order.

"We are pleased the court put some limits on discovery," Google said in the statement, "including refusing to allow Viacom to access users' private videos and our search technology. We are disappointed the court granted Viacom's overreaching demand for viewing history. We are asking Viacom to respect users' privacy and allow us to anonymize the logs before producing them under the court's order."

CNET reported that Viacom is under strict instructions from the court not to use the data for anything other than proving the prevalence of infringement on YouTube.

Viacom, therefore, is forbidden from targeting individual users in the manner of the Recording Industry Association of America's lawsuits against individuals found to be downloading illegal music.

The case is important to Internet users because it could help define the scope of the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That's the part of copyright law that Google and other Internet service providers claim protects them from being held responsible for the actions of their users.

Don't look for the case to get to court anytime soon. The discovery part of the case isn't expected to end until sometime next year.

What might prove interesting in the meantime is that among the people Google has asked to depose are Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of the The Colbert Report.