A federal judge recently gave us some fascinating reading when he ordered the release of documents in Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, now owned by Google. Viacom has alleged that YouTube violated its copyrights on over 100,000 clips, including those of its most popular shows like South Park and The Daily Show.
The emails, obtained by Viacom as part of the litigation discovery process, reveal more than indifference to copyright, or simply looking the other way. Indeed, they chronicle a race to the bank by the YouTube founders who sought to build their user base by offering copyrighted material, in order to sell the company before the scope of what they were doing became apparent.
Even more remarkably, Google executives were among the few people outside of YouTube who fully understood that YouTube’s success was based primarily on copyrighted material. But they went ahead and bought YouTube anyway in …
We are happy that our August 31 report on the White House New Media operation to harvest data from social network websites is finally getting some attention. We unearthed the fact that this office is seeking a vendor capable of conducting a massive data harvesting operation, prompting concerns that the White House is seeking to identify friends and enemies.
When we posted our story, we received so many hits that it took down our server and forced us to move to a more powerful machine, but we received scant print and electronic media coverage. Today, the Washington Times covered the story on its front page, above the fold. Drudge and Lucianne linked to the story, giving it high visibility.
As explained by the Times:
The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking
David Gewirtz, who contributes to Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN, claims to “debunk” our story about White House New Media office plans to collect data from social networking websites.
Our story was based on a document called a “Request for Quote.” Of the document, Gewirtz states, “It’s a publicly available government procurement document, and just for you, I’ve read all 51 excruciatingly boring pages of the thing.”
Maybe too boring for Gewirtz, as he must have skimmed over this section that appears on page three under “Performance Objectives:”
(K) Provide a web-based tool for government employees to administer and manage this record keeping. (i.e. add new publicly accessible websites to the crawl or adjust the crawl frequency.) Provide a minimum of 10 simultaneous login accounts.
In other words, the administration wants the ability to have at least 10 government workers simultaneously adding new web sites to a crawl program, or …
NLPC has uncovered a plan by the White House New Media operation to hire a technology vendor to conduct a massive, secret effort to harvest personal information on millions of Americans from social networking websites.
The information to be captured includes comments, tag lines, emails, audio, and video. The targeted sites include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and others – any space where the White House “maintains a presence.”
In the course of investigating procurement by the White House New Media office, NLPC discovered a 51-page solicitation of bids that was filed on Friday, August 21, 2009. Filed as Solicitation # WHO-S-09-0003, it is posted at FedBizzOps.com. Click here to download a 51-page pdf of the solicitation.
While the solicitation specifies a 12-month contract, it allows for seven one-year extensions. It specifies no dollar cap. Other troubling issues include :
extremely broad secrecy terms preventing the vendor from disclosing to