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YouTube Hands Over User Info To Fox 396

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the their-tube dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tech Crunch has an article about YouTube identifying and handing over a user's information after a request from Fox. 'Three weeks after receiving a subpoena from the U.S. District Court in Northern California, YouTube has reportedly identified a user accused by 20th Century Fox Television of uploading episodes of the show 24 a week prior to their running on television. That user, named ECOTtotal, is also alleged to have uploaded 12 episodes of The Simpsons, some quite old. Apparently Google and YouTube were willing and able to identify the owner of the username ECOTtotal, according to a report on InternetNews.com.'"
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YouTube Hands Over User Info To Fox

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  • Willing and able (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShaunC (203807) * on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:36PM (#18015992)
    "Apparently Google and YouTube were willing" ... to comply with a subpoena from a US District Court. I think most companies would do the same thing.
  • I began to wonder why this hasn't already happened.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:37PM (#18016004)
    If they were subpoenaed, they didn't have much choice. I hate the MPAA/RIAA/Studios as much as the next guy, but neither Fox or YouTube seem unrealistic here.
    • by Radon360 (951529) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @04:00PM (#18016310)

      Seems to me that the issue at hand is more of a precursor to all the RIAA/MPAA/copyright gobbledygook. This someone was posting shows before they aired. It would be akin to publishing a company's trade secrets before they went public with them (i.e. leaking insider information that would influence the company's stock price).

      Yes, the copyright stuff applies in whatever sense that it does, but if I were Fox, that would be taking a back seat to getting someone that was leaking "my" shows before they aired. Of course, once that someone were caught, "I" wouldn't be afraid to add copyright infringement to the list of charges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        This someone was posting shows before they aired. It would be akin to publishing a company's trade secrets before they went public with them

        And if they could get it equated to a trade secret, that would be a nice thing to nail them for.

        Yes, the copyright stuff applies in whatever sense that it does, but if I were Fox, that would be taking a back seat to getting someone that was leaking "my" shows before they aired.

        IANAL (obviously) but what laws are being broken here besides copyright infringement? I don

        • by Radon360 (951529) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @05:11PM (#18017160)

          This someone was posting shows before they aired. It would be akin to publishing a company's trade secrets before they went public with them
          And if they could get it equated to a trade secret, that would be a nice thing to nail them for.

          How about lost revenue due to reduced ad revenue, resulting from reduced viewership? If people know ahead of time what is going to happen in the next cliffhanger, they would be less apt to make arrangements to watch it. Draw a parallel to all the reality TV series for a moment. How interesting does the show series become when you know who is going to win in the last episode? Why do you think they sign the participants to "hush agreements" with stiff penalties? If people lose interest in a show, it becomes harder to demand higher ad revenue for placement during the show airtimes since the ratings would show that less people would be watching. (higher ratings = higher price commanded for ad airtime)

          IANAL (obviously) but what laws are being broken here besides copyright infringement?

          How about simple theft? The shows in question weren't broadcast or otherwise distributed to the general public in some fashion by Fox. If these shows were posted to YouTube after they aired, then copyright infringement would be pretty much all that Fox would have as legal ammunition. However, someone illegally removed (stole) these shows from one of the production facilities. What if I were to grab a copy of my company's quarterly results before they were published/publically released and spread them all over the internet? Obviously, there would be hell to pay. However, if I did the same thing after the company published its results, there really wouldn't be any harm that would come from it.

          • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @05:27PM (#18017322) Homepage Journal

            How about simple theft? The shows in question weren't broadcast or otherwise distributed to the general public in some fashion by Fox. If these shows were posted to YouTube after they aired, then copyright infringement would be pretty much all that Fox would have as legal ammunition. However, someone illegally removed (stole) these shows from one of the production facilities.

            Okay just STOP THERE. You do NOT know what you are talking about.

            Media is often distributed to certain individuals before it is aired on TV or released in theaters, as the case may be. Fox has not publicly made the assertion that he stole the discs. He MAY have done this, but there is NO reason to believe that it is the case. And to claim that someone stole the discs from a Fox production facility is just ignorant until Fox tells us that is true. Otherwise, it's safer to assume that someone had them for a legitimate reason, and either allowed them to make a copy, or they are "them" and uploaded it themselves. Telecine releases of movies are often made in the theater where the movie will be shown and most screeners you can download are made from screening copies intentionally distributed for review.

            Finally, someone who was in the production facility wouldn't necessarily need to actually take any discs anywhere. They might conceivably have copied them while onsite, one disc at a time (per visit?) with a computer on the site, or one they brought with them. This is almost more likely than stealing it, because stealing the masters or screening duplicates would be detected far more rapidly than copying them.

            What if I were to grab a copy of my company's quarterly results before they were published/publically released and spread them all over the internet? Obviously, there would be hell to pay.

            Yes, for dissemination of private information that does not belong to you. Guess what? It's still not called theft unless you physically remove them from the enterprise. You CAN steal a copy of data. You cannot steal the data without stealing all of the copies.

            However, if I did the same thing after the company published its results, there really wouldn't be any harm that would come from it.

            You could repost the figures, but copying and pasting the data in its entirety, including the presentation (formatting etc) would be a violation of copyright. The first part is because no one owns facts. The second part is because it's not your copyrighted information. Putting information on the web (or in a quarterly report) doesn't revoke its copyright.

            All you are doing is speculating wildly. I realize this is a favorite slashbot pastime, but give it up already. You don't know shit about what happened, and neither do the rest of us.

  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:38PM (#18016010)

    OK, I post a youtube video of the goatse guy in action.

    I guess this dissapears? Haven't tried.

    OK, I post simpsons video, and the copyright owner says, stop it, and the video stays up (or down??) and then the user who submitted gets turned over to be turned into the goatse guy?

    My point, is why can come content just dissapear w/o a problem, but the other is then escalated into a problem?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196)
      There's a difference between the problems of showing a disgusting video that isn't protected by copyright, and a funny one that is protected by copyright.

      The difference is the copyright.

      And of course the remedy is different: deleting vs penalties for the unauthorized copies.
      • by hackstraw (262471) *
        The difference is the copyright.

        And of course the remedy is different: deleting vs penalties for the unauthorized copies.


        OK, now pretend goatse is copyrighted. I would bet that youtube would just burry it, and go on. Right?

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)
          Why would you pretend that, if the goatse copyright owner complained to YouTube?

          You're talking like "copyright" is some arbitrary characteristic, like a color in the video's palette. Don't you understand the difference between offending some viewers and property? That the owner complaining has legal force?
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You're talking like "copyright" is some arbitrary characteristic, like a color in the video's palette. Don't you understand the difference between offending some viewers and property? That the owner complaining has legal force?

            If the copyright holder of a video of goatse man's gaping anus went to the court and got a subpoena, then google would probably do precisely the same thing that they did in this case. If the copyright holder simply complained to them, then they would just remove the offending content

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by AP2k (991160)

        showing a disgusting video
        I'm glad someone agrees with me regarding the new Simpsons episodes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      This guy was uploading content before it was televised. That's why Fox is going so heavy on him.
    • Why in the world would you have this video? I doubt 99% of those familiar with goatse are aware it exists, if it in fact does, and here you are talking about it in open conversation in an unrelated topic.

      Just... odd.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172)
      Question:. . .why can come content just dissapear w/o a problem, but the other is then escalated into a problem?

      Answer:. . .the copyright owner says, stop it. . .

      Have you got any other questions you'd like to answer before you pose the question?

      Oh, I know how you're going to respond, but I just couldn't resist taking that whack at you; you stuck your head up for it, but. . .

      The answer is still the same: It's up to the copyright holder how to deal with it. If the copyright holder is content with the content
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:39PM (#18016030) Homepage
    Fox shows aren't important enough to be uploaded. The funny ones will air on other channels.
    • Fox shows aren't important enough to be uploaded. The funny ones will air on other channels.

      What's that got to do with 24, which is funny only unintentionally?
      • by Dorceon (928997)

        What's that got to do with 24, which is funny only unintentionally?
        Tell me about it. Chloe spends 12 hours of every day reconfiguring uplinks. Write a damn shell script!
  • Why YouTube? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 15Bit (940730) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:42PM (#18016060)
    Of all the places you *could* post an illegal copy of a copyrighted TV program, why YouTube? It's pretty much guaranteed you're going to get caught.

    Stupidity sometimes gets what it deserves...

    • Because it's easy enough to be idiot-proof. YouTube is full of pirated TV shows and even full movies (chopped into 9:59 segments) put there by Average Joe Sixpack who finds creating, uploading, and seeding a .torrent or posting to a newsgroup just too gosh-darn computer-nerdy. Anyone can chop up an ill-gotten DIVX clip with the barebones movie-maker that comes with Windows, and Youtube pretty much holds your hand for the uploading process.
  • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:42PM (#18016076)
    Providing information in response to a court subpeona is very different than doing so "after a request from Fox."
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:43PM (#18016088)
    People like to say all the time that downloading movies is not theft; it's copyright infringement. And that is true.

    However in this case it is truly theft, because the 24 video was never in the public to "copy". This was outright theft of what is basically confidential data.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LainTouko (926420)

      People like to say all the time that downloading movies is not theft; it's copyright infringement. And that is true.

      However in this case it is truly theft, because the 24 video was never in the public to "copy". This was outright theft of what is basically confidential data.

      Your second paragraph shows that you do not understand your first.

      It's not theft because nobody has ceased to possess anything. Whether what was being copied was supposed to be secret or not is irrelevant.

      • by SydShamino (547793) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @04:18PM (#18016538)
        No, in this case you are wrong. Until the information has been made public, it could be claimed (and a jury would likely agree) that the material is a Fox trade secret. It contains plot twists and other elements that are confidential until their air date, so that their impact has not been diluted by pre-emptive copies. Imagine if a writer for a soap opera saw a plot twist on a pre-release version of 24, then wrote that same twist into his or her soap to air before the 24 air date.

        Federal law does prohibit stealing of trade secrets, and it is classified as "theft". See for example the recent conviction of a Coca-Cola ex-secretary, who attempted to sell formula information to Pepsi-Cola. Copying the data and providing it to Pepsi did not cause Coke to lose possession of their formula, but it did potentially deprive them of a trade secret.

        Before you respond, please read through and understand Title 18, United States Code, Section 1832(a)(1-3).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LainTouko (926420)
          No, you see, you're talking about what some group of people lobbied some other group of people to write on a piece of paper, leading to its enforcement by threat of violence. Whereas I'm talking about a concept which has existed for as long as property has existed.

          If you want to let lawmakers define your worldview, that's fine, but don't assume that I do.
      • It's not theft because nobody has ceased to possess anything.

        Sorry, but that's nonsense. If you take something that belongs legally to someone else, it's theft under the law. Period.

        To forestall the inevitable carping - no, it's not the MPAA/RIAA/whoever trying to redefine terms. Terms like 'theft' and 'piracy' for IP infractions go back over a century (and in some cases nearly half a millenia). The people trying to redefine terms and playing sophmoric semantic games are people like the OP. (A

      • Why is it only thieft if they stole a physical disk or tape? The information is the same. It's more symantics than law. If he brought his own disk it isn't thieft but if stole one of theirs it's thieft? Well here's a brain bender, what if he did steal one of their disks? How the information was removed isn't known. People don't have the rights to everything, that isn't the law. If I make a video you don't have the rights to it the moment it's shot. In the case of 24 no one is asking you to buy anything. Put
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      However in this case it is truly theft, because the 24 video was never in the public to "copy". This was outright theft of what is basically confidential data.

      That may depend on whether or not you consider an unencrypted satellite uplink transmission "in the public". First-run syndicated programming is often like this. Hell, I saw the first episode of Viper on my cable, without commercials, well before its premiere and well before I'd even heard of the show. I've even seen rough storyboarded commercials
  • Got ta say..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:43PM (#18016090)
    This is an obvious case of thieft and they have every right to plug the leak at their end. Posting episodes before they air has to be coming from their end so they have the right to locate and fire/prosecute the source. It has nothing to do with fair use it has to do with protecting their work. Advertisers can potentially cut funding and kill the series if they don't defend it. Youtube really has no choice since they'd be protecting the thief. Supporting the people involved harms those supporting fair use since it appears they are supporting outright thieft. A line has to be drawn and they crossed it in this case.
    • by kosmosik (654958)
      Totally agree with you. What is sad that maniacs posting stuff like this will get associated with general Linux/Free/Open/Software community and build the opinion that such users don't give a shit about stealing (well this is not exactly theft - copyright violation).

      I am all about copyrights (and copylefts). The same rights that protect new Simpsons episodes also apply to protecting f.e. GPL-ed code (from license violations).

      It is also sad that editors running this site are retarded to post things like that
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is an obvious case of thieft

      Your brain apparently revolted against the nonsense you were spewing and caused you to misspell the offending word.

      Copyright infringement is NOT THEFT. It is copyright infringement. We have a name for it for a reason, and that reason is to distinguish it from theft, in which you deprive another of the thing which you are taking. When you make a copy of something you are NOT taking it. You are copying it. Note too that copying and taking are not the same thing, which is why

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lahvak (69490)
        If I understand the situation in this case, it was not copyright infringement, it was a theft. The point is that the show was not released yet. If you break into my house and steal a manuscript of a book that I am writing, its a theft. Even if you just make a copy a leave the original manuscript behind.

        At the moment I publish the book, the situation changes. After that, if you make unauthorized copies, it is merely a copyright infringement, and only if the copies you make are not covered by fair use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by IronChef (164482)
        Note too that copying and taking are not the same thing, which is why we have different words for them.

        Times are changing. Today I copied someone else's lunch from the fridge at work.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:46PM (#18016126)

    Apparently Google and YouTube were willing and able to identify the owner of the username ECOTtotal...


    How/why would Google/YouTube have personally identifying information about a user anyway? (Or was the user stupid enough to not anonymize himself before trying this?)

    I'll bet this turns out to be the cousin/friend/lover of a TV critic; they have access to advance copies that aren't supposed to get spread around. (Yes, it's happened before.) Something tells me the average Fox employee isn't bright enough to fire up his/her own browser.
    • by bunions (970377)
      The ISP will likely match up an IP with an actual human, unless the poster went to more trouble to hide his tracks than most do.
    • Well, it is perfectly possible for the uploader to have gmail id and used google check out to buy a gps system and got it delivered to his home. Never over estimate the average human intelligence. Now if I am really clever, and if I have a grouse against my employer or ex, I would create a google id in his/her name, get gps delivered to his/her home and use the same id to upload content that is sure to draw the attention of mpaa and then stand at the sidewalk and watch the fun. But sadly I am too smart for
  • by joto (134244)
    Just because your username can be different from your real name doesn't mean that your actions are completely without consequences. Not that I have a lot of sympathies for either Fox, ECOTtotal, Fox viewers, viewers of the TV-show 24, people who upload copyrighted stuff to youtube, people who watch copyrighted stuff from youtube, or even people in general. But I do enjoy myself when corporate greed wins over stupid people.
    • by sfjoe (470510)
      But I do enjoy myself when corporate greed wins over stupid people.

      I'm just the opposite: I like to see stupid people beating corporate greed. Actually, I like to see anyone beating corporate greed.
    • by linguizic (806996) *
      I'm more fond of when stupid people win over corporate greed. It's much more entertaining!
  • And this is OK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kosmosik (654958)
    It is not OK to take some licensed media and just upload if to Youtube. You fucking (/. editors) hypocrits will cry loud when GPL is violated but when somebody evidently pirates a copy of copyright protected Simpsons episode it is OK?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, we believe that content should be freely distributable ala GPL or Creative Commons. Therefore, there is no hypocrisy because we would defend FOX if they used a freer license.
  • by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @04:04PM (#18016352)
    ...on the Internet can lead to very bad or unexpected things for you or those around you. Just this week someone "anonymously" posting on a local newspaper online forum caused a mistrial [ljworld.com] in a multiple first degree murder and aggravated arson case where I live.
    • by MrWa (144753) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @05:18PM (#18017238) Homepage
      Your summary of the stories seems to imply that the anonymous posting caused the mistrial, which is not quite accurate. The discovery of a new witness for the prosecution during the trial itself was the reason for the mistrial - the anonymous posting was just the means by which this witness was discovered. It would make as much sense as blaming coffee shops for the mistrial if the witness was found drinking a latte that morning.

      Mistrials in cases where a new witness surfaces late in the trial process are not unusual, District Judge Robert Fairchild said, especially when the testimony presented would affect the case considerably.

      A mistrial is simply a do over, to allow the defense to prepare based on the new material available to the prosecution. This prevents the highly dramatic, yet complete fantasy, occurrence of the prosecution discovering a key witness or piece of evidence and unveiling it during the final moments of the trial, catching the defense totally off-guard, leading to a swift conviction.

  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @04:48PM (#18016920) Journal
    Everyone seems to ignore the fact that he was releasing the episodes weeks before broadcast. Meaning he wasn't just breaking copyright, but trade secret and probably contract requirements as well.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@@@earthshod...co...uk> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @04:22AM (#18021512)
    Never, ever give out your real details to anyone who doesn't need to know them.

    Always use made-up names, addresses and other personal details when registering for an account with any on-line service -- and don't use the same details twice. If you're looking for an address, there's at least one Catholic church in almost every city in the world.

    Remember: Nobody needs to know where you live unless they want to visit you. Nobody needs to know your e-mail address unless they want to send you e-mail. Nobody needs to know when you were born unless they want to send you a birthday card. Nobody needs to know how much you earn unless they are going to lend you money and want to know how soon you can pay it back. Nobody needs to know what is between your legs unless they want to shag you. Nobody needs to know if you are a vegetarian unless they are going to invite you for dinner. In fact, to give you service down a wire, the only thing anyone needs to know is your IP address; and if they managed to send you the form requesting your valuable data, they already know that.

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