Viacom backs down over YouTube lawsuit

Viacom has backed down on its demands to access YouTube users' historical viewing data in its $1bn legal action against Google over alleged copyright infringement by the video-sharing site.

As part of a US court ruling early this month, Google was to be forced to release the records of every video watched on YouTube, including user names and web addresses, to Viacom.

The media firm launched a $1bn lawsuit against Google's YouTube last year, accusing the video-sharing site of violating its copyright.

Viacom, along with Comedy Partners, BET, Country Music Television and Paramount, insisted they needed general viewing information to determine the proportion of views on YouTube of copyright infringing content versus non-infringing content. Viacom claims that there are more than 150,000 unauthorised clips from its shows on YouTube.

The two sides have now reached a formal agreement to keep the data anonymous.

But the two sides have not extended the anonymity agreement to employees. Viacom aims to prove that Google staff are aware of illegal material being uploaded to the site.

The parties are to meet in an attempt to agree how to share employees’ records, but if they cannot reach a deal, the data will be made available to the court.