What GOVA’s Gavone Means to Online Video and the New Networks

There’s a new Global Online Video Association led by Paul Kontonis. What does it means to YouTube and the networks like Collective, Maker, Machinima, Fullscreen and others?

He’s the new GOVA Gavone. The leader of the online video association. The guy who’s scream silences a room.

AdWeek reports that Paul Kontonis, former online video producer and agency guy, is heading the new Global Online Video Association (GOVA). Kontonis has been a leader in the online video space from its inception, including such roles as founder of “For Your Imagination,” VP at Digitas’ Third Act, and chairman of International Academy of Web Television.

online, video, gavone, GOVA, association
Paul Kontonis is the gavone who heads GOVA, the new online-video trade association.

By day, Kontonis heads sales and strategy for one of the top “multichannel networks” (MCNs) called Collective Digital Studio. GOVA is made up of nine of the top MCNs (also called online-video studios and “new networks”). These include Collective, Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Big Frame, BroadbandTV, DECA, Discovery’s Revision3, Magnet Media and MiTu Networks. Machinima is conspicuously absent, but unlikely for long (it’s quite common for the biggest in an industry to initially think they don’t need an association).

GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs
GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs

Caveat: I know Kontonis and like him (which is why I am allowed to call him a gavone as a term of respect). He was even in one of my videos where I thought I turned invisible. But I haven’t spoken to him in a while and know nothing directly about his GOVA appointment. So this is all my speculation based on watching this space mature. And I wrote a book, so shut up.

What’s ahead, and what does GOVA mean to the networks and the maturing landscape of online video?

  • Susan Wojcicki, the leader of YouTube.
    Susan Wojcicki, leader of YouTube, is focused on mainstream players. GOVA may help keep her attention on smaller studios.

    Bargaining Power with YouTube. The online-video networks, or “multichannel networks,” will now have a collective voice they’ll need more in coming years. That’s in part because YouTube, the virtual monopoly on distribution, is increasingly turning its attention to more mainstream studios and traditional networks. As YouTube grows, it will be increasingly difficult for individual studios to command the attention they’ve received in the past. How do we know that? History is the best predictor: Initially top YouTube stars could garner attention from Google and resolve issues. But eventually YouTube creators needed the power of a network. The networks don’t know it yet, but in years ahead they’ll need strength in greater numbers than they have today.

  • Bumpy Road, Herding Cats. Associations can be tricky, as participants theoretically want a collective voice, but they’re also competing against each other for precious advertising dollars. Kontonis has shown he’s got the diplomacy and persuasion to herd these network cats.
  • GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for "amateurs."
    GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for “amateurs.”

    Could Slow Down Acquisitions. In the coming years, we’d expect to see more of these online-video networks get acquired by larger players. Discovery ate Revision3. Google ate Next New Networks.  GOVA may give some of these players more time to play independently, if they wish, before the eventual consolidation of traditional and “multichannel” networks in the 2015-2020 period.  That doesn’t mean the MCNs will be less attractive to acquiring parties, it just means they won’t be as desperate to be sold. That’s a very good thing for individual creators of these networks. (When they do get acquired, they’ll try to convince you it’s a good thing…  but as a loyal WVFF reader you’ll know better).

  • GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies
    GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies

    Developing Emerging Channels to Reduce Dependency on YouTube. As we look beyond YouTube, the major stakeholders are technology companies, advertisers, and content creators. Years ago, an individual studio could negotiate their video content onto new platforms — like we saw Revision3 do with Roku and College Humor do with TiVo. But that will be more difficult as stakes increase and traditional networks start seeing more meaningful “TV dollars” moving to emerging channels. This coordinated approach through GOVA will increase the studio’s voice with new platforms. Watch for GOVA serving a role to keep them “out in front” of new platforms — from Roku to Netflix and Hulu to Amazon. And more importantly, the emerging video distribution platforms we don’t yet see coming. Maybe one day even AppleTV!

  • Other Boring But Important Crap. GOVA can also help with legislation/regulation, advertising formats, metric standardization, growth of the online-video, and thought leadership. Depending on the issue, they will likely partner and challenge other players like IAB, ComScore, traditional media associations, and marketing agencies.
  • Four More Years. That’s how long I see this lasting. By 2018, we’d expect GOVA to roll into the Internet Advertising BureauIRTS or some other association. But no other association has the knowledge of or focus on this medium.
  • Bottom Line. Creators and studios need GOVA whether they know it or not. Otherwise the technology platforms and advertisers will set the agenda.
maker, deco, big frame, deca, magnet, fullscreen, collective, web, studios, networks, online, youtube
9 out of the top 10 “multichannel networks” are included in the new association.

CES to Illuminate Future of ITV

As the Consumer Electronic Show approaches, the “pre-game” show includes some buzz about Internet Television (ITV). We’re beginning to see better signs of a more mainstream evolution from “lean forward” to “lean back” consumption of video. It’s a race from the office to the living room and bedroom.
Even “post Jobs,” Apple is the most common buzz beneficiary. But a recent USAToday piece confirmed the challenges Apple has had with securing content deals — a far cry from how the company mobilized in the music industry:

“The problems Apple is having securing content deals were described in an interview with a person who worked in the Apple TV group and verified by two television industry sources.”
The trailblazer has been GoogleTV/Samsung, and Microsoft continues with its Xbox approach. While the Rokus and Tivos were early movers, I’d expect the true rivalry to ultimately occur between television manufacturers and cable providers, since “it’s a race to the living room.” While early adopters are comfortable with alternative devices and streaming from their computers, most Americans are overwhelmed with the prospect of using any device that’s not “standard issue” by their cable provider. But most televisions are now coming with web access, and that’s underexploited capacity.
Back to Apple after its lackluster AppleTV launch. Can it reinvent? The good news for Apple and other players is that we seem to be adding more TVs per family than ever.
“I do expect Apple to make an attempt,” says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, “since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making.”

Can Google Leanback Lengthen YouTube Binges? Yes in 3 Ways.

Can GoogleTV’s new “Leanback” increase average YouTube binges? This is explores by NewTeeVee writer Ryan Lawler today.

While our fat asses watch five hours of television a day, our average time on YouTube is just 15 minutes. With an alleged one preroll per 7 minutes, that’s not a lot of advertising revenue. Can GoogleTV change it? Here’s my take on the question. Yes, yes and yes. Why?

1) Comfort lengthens consumption time. It’s a fact. Give me a couch and an AppleTV and I’m a veal. So by the very nature of offering web video conveniently and intuitively, we’re off to a good start.
2) “Related videos” increase online-video binges like cows sell food products. Nothing drives a session like being handed another food trough when yours is empty. That’s why we’re all using the last few seconds of a video to visually tease more content. It’s irresistible. Of course the minority of viewers make it to the end so I imagine MysteryGuitarMan will start teasing his next video at the midpoint not the end.
3) Nobody has cracked in online video what Amazon has done with “you may also like,” and nobody’s come up with an auto-curator tool, so there’s loads of upside. What do I mean? Screw the most-favorites and most-viewed. I want to know what my friends are laughing at because I’m likely to laugh too and the shared laugh is the ENTIRE reason things viralinate. We want — no we NEED — shared experiences. A good shares moment is better than a GREAT solo one. I’m pissed that more of my friends aren’t watching Modern Family because I want to discuss it conveniently.

So what does point 3 look like on Google TV? Suggestions need to be based not on the general population but my slice of reality. The WVFF back row likes it? I don’t want to miss it. I find something (like reruns of the Ricky Gervais show or the “acquired taste” of “Outsourced”) and I damn well want someone sharing in that. So I’m motivated. I want my GoogleTV to do three things and only three things:

  • Tell me what my friends like. And don’t make it a pain in the ass for them or me.
  • Introduce me to people with my same taste and obsessions. And do it gently because instant BFFs are short lasting ones. True friendships take time to blossom and the insta-friend is usually only there for you when he needs you.
  • Let me share my finds effortlessly with friends so we can easily share in the experience without changing my habits dramatically. And regardless of geography. I want right now to laugh about the fat nerdy guy from Outsourced and the way he body danced in the last episode when he thought he was selling the record amount of prank gifts. But it turns out he was getting punked by the douchebag Microsoft call centers who are Indian but speak jive, honkey, and redneck fluently. That’s brilliant comedy and I want to share t without hunting down some damned Outsource Fanclub blog forum shit. I wanna do it right from the TV. “insert lol” at the exact moment of the show so my friends see it when they’re watching and I can search for their LOLs.

Ultimately I’m betting on Google figuring out the new television because its legacy is in the relevance business. Google knows what I want when I can’t even articulate what I’m seeking.

I know I sound freaky but this is coming as sure a your mobile phone will be your portable remote, remembering your subscriptions and purchases and being indifferent to the monitor or location. This will happen soon enough because I know we not just want but need it.

AdAge Celebrates YouTube Sellouts

AdAge called out the biggest YouTube sellouts— those known for sponsored videos for top brands. Naturally my headline would have read “YouTube’s Most Prolific Sponsored Artists” had I been included in the list. For those of you whose nipples don’t get pointy when you hear words like “advertising, marketing, Mad Men, spot, creative brief, storyboards, USP, reach, frequency and single-minded proposition,” AdAge is kinda the Forbes for advertising junkies. It’s like Men’s Health except some straight people read it.

shaycarl
shaycarl t-shirt

The actual article is titled “Meet YouTube’s Most In-Demand Brand Stars,” and it’s a nice representation of the booming webstar, perhaps the central point of “Beyond Viral,” an amazing new book by Wiley & Sons coming out Sept. 21. Despite some conspicuous misses and a few odd inclusions, the article points to some interesting nuggets like MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) preference for a blank creative brief… his videos have never been better, and each one squashes my own confidence more aggressively than the next.

I would have also liked to read a “who’s who” of the companies that link stars with brands (Hitviews, Mekanism, PlaceVine, Howcast, YouTube). That’s something you don’t see covered well, and it’d be fascinating to read about the total market for sponsored videos and the dominant players.

TubeMogul helped compile this list, and you can see the webstar’s vital signs on the TubeMogul marketplace. The stats seem to be out of synch with YouTube’s counter and other sites (TubeMogul has me at 145 million, while YouTube alone counts 161 million…. so my views on Yahoo Video and other sites must be negative 16 million). It could be that once I “private” a video (like those I’ve buried because I no longer like them), I lose Tubemogul credit for them.

Before I could go to bed sulking for being overlooked by AdAge and Tubemogul, I discovered author Irina Slutsky sent me a note about this a week or so. And yeah I missed it. Just like the two e-mail offers to appear on AnnoyingOrange, one of the hottest web series by DaneBoe.

ADHD online-video creator and marketer seeks minimum-wage e-mail account manager from India.

These peeps don’t seem to read my blog, but I consider more than a few of them as friends… Trippy (he’s been in my kids’ bed), Buckley (he spanked me), Penna (wrote the Nalts theme and couldn’t get into bars at early YouTube gathersings), and Shay (he was new, we collabed, then he became twice as big as me overnight… and also got a lot more viewers). Others are more like acquaintances like Justine (who keeps a safe distance, but I made her what she is) and Smosh. Speaking of Smosh, Ian and Anthony get props for the recent Butterfinger Snackers video (“Selling Out”) that spoofed the criticism they’ve taken lately for doing a few too many sponsored videos. Heh. I did a Butterfinger video in 2006, a year before I goofed on this whole sponsored-video space with this video, which mentions Smosh. I’m guessing the Smosh kids never saw this diddy…

It’s me 3 years ago mimicking the emergence YouTube “sell outs” and the personalities who might desperately broker brand/webstar love connections... you know, the entities connecting brands and web stars. Most YouTube webstars know more about engaging an audience than turning a brand strategy into effective and persuasive messaging… so they need help. There are some exception- like Rhett and Link, who could just as well be their own boutique creative agency, as reflected in the quality of their advertainment and the highly unusual ratio of branded to non-sponsored views. I almost like their sponsored videos better than their brand-deficient ones because like a pro athlete they make it look easy.

And, lest I miss mentioning my book (Beyond Viral) in a single post, you’ll find mention of almost all of these cats inside the low-cost pages… including featured sections on Rhett & Link, Charles Trippy, Shay Butler and others.

Hey what ever happened to Buckley? I think he ignored me like Caitlin Hill (thehill88) and iJustine. Maybe Buckley needs an e-mail intern… I wonder if there are any Indians with the name Mason?

Seven Secrets YouTube Doesn’t Want You to Know!

Seven secrets YouTube doesn’t want you to know. Revenue, profit, editorial versus algorithm, Steven Chen’s latest.

Man that headline will sell. Truth is, I am very careful about NOT revealing confidential information on this blog that I learn from Google employees, as a YouTube partner, or through my conversations with industry colleagues or creators.

But most of this is public now, or based on educated assumptions topped with a saucy tabloid-like flare. On a similar note, YouTube’s Business Blog published a refreshingly transparent POV about some YouTube myths recently. Did you know that 70% of Ad Age top 100 marketers ran YouTube campaigns in 2008?

Here are the secrets the YouTube PR folks won’t reveal:

I've got a secret
"I've got a secret" -Cindy Brady

1) YouTube is Monetizing Fewer than 9 Percent of Its Videos. But Who Cares? Kudos to Jason Kincaid for doing fancy math to figure out what percent of videos YouTube is monetizing (meaning the site is making money instead of paying to stream and bleeding money). The answer was 8.5%, which is close to AdAge’s 8.7% estimate (CNN Money claims 13%). Of course, monetizing could mean shitty lil’ penny banner buys, decent InVideo sponsorships, homepage takeovers, or premium rev-share deals. It’s long been rumored to be 3-5 percent monetization, but let’s get real. Google could turn that number to 100% by simply running Adsense indescriminately on each page. So I’d be less concerned about the percent than the profitability.

Thanks to YouTube my videos are seen 200-250,000 times a day (yey, Uncle Google). That wouldn’t happen any other way, and I’m only hoping the biz-dev folks enhance the average profit per-monetized video before it bothers chasing the impossible-to-monetize-well long tail. This is happening as we speak with new revenue boosting options.

If I got a penny per view, I’d earn $730,000.00 this year. I’m not, mkay?

2) Algorithms Squashed the Editors. Almost nothing you see on YouTube is by accident… or an editor anymore. While YouTube editors once possessed more power than most network executives (creating instant celebrities by homepage feature pixie dust), the model is now driven almost exclusively by relevancy and economics. Recently, YouTube announced content creators and small advertisers can get their videos promoted for a fee… and not just against search results. Editors continue to serve some role on the “spotlight” pages and community relations, but are not the Titans they were in 2006 and 2007. That said, we still love them deeply because our love was unrequited. Especially when they put us on Partner showcase pages.

Google-Data Robots Eat YouTube Editors' Brains for Fuel
Google-Data Robots Eat YouTube Editors' Brains for Fuel

3) YouTube Still Plays Favorite, and especially for “TV Shows.” Lately, YouTube has worked hard to pimp its “shows,” a collection of retro TV that lost its charm faster than Bazooka loses its taste. Ba-boom. There also are some YouTube partners that live on the home-page (CommunityChannel), the recommendation section for new registrants to YouTube, or are “micro-featured” everywhere. We don’t know whether the editors are doing this, or the algorithms are saying: “these guys are good YouTube-addiction starter drugs.” But we do know that if a human does have any input to this “favoritism,” the person is probably really smart, attractive and has good breath. Man I’d like to meet ’em!

4) It’s All About Your Relatives: Not Keywords and Viral. Think viral-views is the engine behind YouTube? Wrong. It’s about having a steady daily audience (like many, but not all, of the top 100 most-subscribed) and having your videos appear as a related video to popular videos… in other words, via ad, editor or algorythm, getting next to watched videos. Just like being next to a pretty girl makes you look cooler.

A visit to YouTube is often a chain reaction. You start to watch one video, and several related videos draw you deeper. Metacafe was once the master of this, and now YouTube is drawing upon its data-oriented parent, Google, to facilitate what I call the “video roach motel” model. This will get better with time, as we move from “title, tag, description” as being the view driver, to that mystical thing called “relevancy.”

What’s relevancy? I’ll give you two examples: if someone searching Google returns instantly after clicking on a result, that page is penalized on the rankings. Presumably it wasn’t what the searcher wanted. On YouTube, if a video is poorly rated and/or is viewed for a percentage that’s far below average for its total duration, it will eventually be penalized. Example two: on Amazon, there’s a high correlation between Wayne Dyer and Dr. Seuss book purchases, then those two books are related. The machine is getting smarter based on universal behaviors and your own preferences. Soon enough, my audience will be a smaller percent of YouTube but hopefully larger and more appropriate. That’s because we’ll see more of “people who like Shaycarl may also like Nalts.” (And although I may not be as funny or cute, I’ll look thinner to those viewers).

Neither of these models requires indexing the content, mind you. So in theory a video could be relevant to you without the algorithm even knowing what’s being spoken (remember years ago we thought all video would be transcribed to facilitate SEO… and that we’d be driving space cars by now?).

5) YouTube May Not be Hurting, But it’s Hungry. Google was the first to abandon banners and move entirely to a bid model. But YouTube, in a Yahoo-like move, has blitzed in past few months with homepage takeovers. Folks, there’s no reason for ads to represent 50% of the site’s homepage (above the fold) unless you’re trying to show fast revenue. It’s not Googlesque (even if CNN Money maintains that Google hearts YouTube). Of course the rice-sized brained media buyers are using this precious space to simply drive awareness instead of engagement: most of the homepage takeovers are for films, and there’s usually nothing more than a trailer to compel interaction.

CNN Money suggests all is zen-like between YouTube and Google. Hey, even if YouTube captured as much as 1 billion in annual revenue, that’s 1/30th of what Google does. Meh. So if YouTube bleeds a few hundred million to run itself ($83-$350 million in infrastructure/hosting alone, and — who knows — $250 million to maybe $500 million in a year), who cares as long as it has strategic long-term value?  Online video is white hot, and it’s just a matter of expediting the future and reducing the blood loss. Of course, all of this is speculation, and Google/YouTube aint talking.

YouTube ad

6) Why YouTube Can’t Discuss Real Profit/Loss. No, YouTube doesn’t want you knowing about its economics, but I have 3 words for the curious: stop asking, idiot. YouTube can’t over or understate financials, yet journalists whine about the company’s decision to not publish profitability (or even costs or revenue specifics). Imagine the channel conflicts disclosure would create! If it’s horrible, YouTube has dimished street credibility with media outlets, downstream distribution partners, and advertisers… not to mention shareholders. If it’s schweet, then it attracts copyright attorneys like watermelon at a picnic. But should YouTube reveal case study ROIs (with permission of advertisers) to legitimize the medium to marketers? Uh- yeah. Glad you asked. I give YouTube a D minus on this.

7) Steven Chen’s Latest Contribution. YouTube won’t likely be issuing press releases about Steven Chen, who has continued to vanish from the public light. But thankfully, Chen disintermediated his employer and shared his latest project — which includes a golf swing. Hey, he’s got billions in the bank. What would you do? Probably build a coffee bar. Or buy the car you’ve saved up for since 2005. For nostalgia, check out Chen when Google bought in.

steven chen

Shit. This post took me hours of time I could have otherwise spent trying to, um, make money. At least there will be a few comments from the back row. Right?

You Tube – Clean Up or Censorship?

hot off the press…

A YouTube for All of Us
As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with:

* Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

* Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

* Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

* More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us.

The YouTube Team

Brief Editorial:
by Zack Scott

1. Why should videos be demoted on profanity alone? Why not just hide them for people not logged in and are 18 or older?

2. Some of YouTube‘s most popular stars…Bo Burnham, Charles Trippy, sXePhil, Chris Crocker, Mark Day, etc…(name as many as you want) all have used profanity.

3. The new thumbnail idea sucks. Now what if none of the thumbnails are good?

4. YouTube sometimes features videos with profanity.

—————–

OK, now I finally understand YouTube’s “Stricter standard for mature content”

“Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages.”

They must not like sXePhil.

It’s Kevin Appreciation Day! Hurray!

Thanks Kevin for being such a charming and righteous guy!

You are truly one of the nicest and funniest people on the net and we or rather I don’t show enough appreciation for all you do to keep us entertained, out of trouble and off hard drugs, but you do! And most of all you are a stand up guy and it’s not said often enough, I don’t think. So thanks again for everything and I promises I will never hack into your blog again.

So Nation of Nalts pass the beer and give a cheer,
dig deep down to the bottom of your silly human hearts,
say something genuine, not too queer and not to smear
and please, oh, please be smart,
hold back the venom
hold back the onions
that gives you the urge to… beg for a mint.

Will Knol For Food: A Weird Blend of WordPress, Blogger, Ask.com, Wikipedia and eBay

Thanks to MCase (loyal WillVideoforfood reader) for pointing out Knol. This is Google’s answer to Ask.com or Wikipedia, where you can write about a subject and share in advertising revenue if anybody cares to read it (and is so bored by it that they click the text ads and stop).

Here’s my knol biography, and I’ve placed a few articles and my eBook inside. I’m not asking you to go rate them 5 stars, but I would like you to remember that Nalts introduced Knol to you (2 years from now, when the term “knolling” is as pervasive as “googling”).

A Knol (see site) is an “authoritative article about a specific topic.” Anyone can write one like Wikipedia (although you can’t edit them). And readers will decide if it’s authoritative or hog wash (like how we score eBay sellers and buyers).

Knoling solves a need — we uninformed humans want vetted, credible content.  Google helps us find it sometimes, but we still don’t have a scalable social network infrastructure for weeding out the accurate from the crap. And don’t talk to me about Squiddo, people. There are probably more people using Twitter right now, and the gap from early adopters to mainstream is wider than my ass has grown since I developed spondylolisthesis and a fractured sacrum… clearly caused by my day job (and not those pratfalls you make me do).  

Of course there’s got to be a “what’s in it for me” for subject-matter experts to knowledge share-  I wouldn’t have knoled my articles this morning just to be nice, or on the chance that these will get views more than my blog. I am chancing on some meager Google adsense revenue. Maybe it’s the next YouTube (which is non trivial) and maybe it’s the next Amazon affiliate program (which is non profitable for me anyway).

Now here’s the million dollar question. Will it Knol get us indexed better on Google? TechCrunch called this out back in December, and this move put Google further into the content business (which is like being the broker and seller in one). What cracks me up about this TechCrunch article is that it doesn’t point out a similar situation. It’s, um, called YouTube?

Knol It All (www.knolitall.com) is already squatted. Puns are the second-lowest form of humor (after sarcasm), though.

Kevin is a poopie head

!

discuss!

Viacom’s Top-Ten Rejected Claims on Google

Viacom Knows What You Did Last Summer.

Holy shit. According to this Wired article, a judge ruled yesterday (Wednesday, July 2, 2008) that Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users’ names and IP addresses, to Viacom. The order also requires Google to turn over copies of all videos that it has taken down for any reason.

Viacom is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, and wants the data to prove that infringing material is more popular than user-created videos, which could be used to increase Google’s liability if it is found guilty of contributory infringement.

Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users’ privacy, but the judge’s ruling (see pdf of ruling) described that argument as “speculative” and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already reacted, calling the order a violation of the Video Privacy Protection act that “threatens to expose deeply private information.”

The judge, in fairness, denied Viacom’s request for:

  1. YouTube’s source code, and the code for identifying repeat copyright infringement uploads
  2. Copies of all videos marked private and Google’s advertising database schema
  3. Chad Hurley and Steven Chen’s nuts on a silver platter
  4. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s son Philippe Douman Jr (who works for Google) taking over as CEO for YouTube.
  5. The letter G removed from the alphabet.
  6. The internet being turned off until said disputes are settled
  7. A return to 1990 when big media had a profitable business model.
  8. Perpetualy indemnification from taxes by Viacom, its employees and any individual or company selected by the Viacom board.
  9. Eleven virgins for each Viacom senior executive.
  10. Viacom Day to replace 4th of July holiday.