From a court ruling in the Viacom/YouTube lawsuit to reports that Microsoft is still eyeing Yahoo, Drama 2.0 found no shortage of drama in the news to attract his interest this week.

Google told to hand over millions of YouTube user details to Viacom in $1 billion case

The judge presiding over Viacom’s $1bn lawsuit against Google and YouTube has ordered that Google provide Viacom with all data related to videos YouTube users have watched.

As reported by The Telegraph:

“The ruling means that Google must now hand over a user log to Viacom, which will contain users’ YouTube log-in details, the IP address of their computer (a unique code that identifies individual machines), plus details of all the video clips that user has viewed.”

According to ZDNet, this amounts to 12 terabytes of data.

Google and the usual copyright infringement apologists such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued that any disclosure of this data would put the privacy of millions of YouTube users at risk.

The judge disagreed and called such privacy concerns speculative, and Viacom and its attorneys face stiff consequences if they use the data inappropriately.

I believe there’s a strong likelihood that the YouTube data will be extremely damning to Google.

First, it will likely cast aside any doubt that YouTube couldn’t have known that it had a massive problem with copyright infringement and that the prime source of its popularity was not user-generated content.

Second, it will likely help Viacom establish “the attractiveness of allegedly infringing video with that of non-infringing video“.

The fact that infringing content was a crucial part of YouTube’s success, of course, would explain why YouTube has not dealt with infringing content effectively – its removal would have significantly damaged the company’s popularity.

While the judge ordered that Google does not have to turn over YouTube’s source code to Viacom, make no mistake about it – Viacom got what it needed and Google should be concerned.

Microsoft may revive attempts to acquire Yahoo

Steve Ballmer is fast proving that he’s the tech world’s preeminent drama queen.

After publicly abandoning Microsoft’s pursuit of Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Steve Ballmer is still very interested in trying to get what he wants from Yahoo.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, Microsoft has been approaching a number of media companies and pitching them on a deal that would break Yahoo up.

Under such a deal, Microsoft would take Yahoo’s search business and the media company would take the rest of Yahoo’s assets.

The media companies Microsoft has approached include Time Warner and News Corp.

Microsoft has also reportedly been encouraging Carl Icahn to continue his proxy battle, ostensibly demonstrating that Microsoft is happy to see Yahoo’s board of directors replaced no matter how that replacement occurs.

While the wisdom of a Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo’s search business could be debated ad nauseum, if Microsoft really wants Yahoo’s search business, its current moves are to be expected.

After all, the pressure on Yahoo’s board of directors isn’t going to subside anytime soon and with the Department of Justice taking a closer look at Yahoo’s deal with Google, Microsoft’s window of opportunity appears to remain open.

What Is Facebook Worth? (Part 37)

As part of the drama between Facebook and ConnectU, the question of Facebook’s value has been brought up yet again.

In seeking to have its settlement with Facebook nullified, ConnectU claimed that Facebook did not disclose information about the company’s true value.

Apparently, ConnectU believed that the value of the shares of stock it received as part of the settlement were worth more than the value placed on them by the company’s “formal valuation resolution,” which was apparently not provided to ConnectU before it agreed to the settlement.

As the New York Times’ Brad Stone explains:

Lawyers for ConnectU settled for a number of shares, not a total number of dollars.


According to that formal valuation resolution, Facebook values itself at $3.75bn, far less than the $15bn valuation that was publicized when Microsoft invested $240mn in the company.

Of course, it’s worth noting that ConnectU apparently received common stock instead of the preferred shares Microsoft purchased so as Stone observes:

Until the initial public offering or buyout, we are largely wandering in the dark when it comes to trying to pin the valuation tail on Facebook.

It’s worth noting that some Facebook shareholders seem to be unable to unload their stock privately at a $3 to $4bn valuation.

Given the overall state of financial markets and increasing questions about Facebook’s monetization capabilities, an acquisition or IPO looks unlikely anytime soon and frankly, if I was one of the ConnectU plaintiffs, I wouldn’t have settled for anything less than a wad of that server cash.

Study says many dial-up users don’t want broadband

While some argue that the United States government needs to do more to increase broadband penetration, the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that supply may not be the problem.

Its survey of dial-up users found that only 14% “say they’re stuck with the older, slower connection technology because they can’t get broadband in their neighbourhoods“.

A full 62% of dial-up users “say they are not interested in giving up their current connection for broadband” and 19% of them “said nothing would convince them to get broadband.

Amongst the 27% of American adults who don’t have access to the internet, only 10% report being interested in getting online. 33% of these individuals simply lack an interest in the internet.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that attitudes about technology in general play a major role in this discussion:

“A majority (67%) of broadband users view electronic devices, to some extent, as an aid to personal productivity, while a minority of dial-up users (46%) sees modern gadgetry in this way.”

At the end of the day, I think this study reminds us that there are still a fairly large number of people who don’t place the same type of emphasis on technology and the internet as those of us in the technology industry do.

Instead of thinking that broadband penetration should be a government priority, in my opinion American technologists would be better off accepting that the internet is just not everyone’s cup of tea.