As you may have seen in the news, YouTube received a court order to produce viewing data from our database, including usernames and IP addresses. In order to protect our community's privacy, we strongly opposed this motion when Viacom and others filed it.
The court felt differently and ordered us to produce the data. Viacom said that they need general viewing information to determine the proportion of views on YouTube of copyright infringing content vs. non-infringing content.
Of course, we have to follow legal process. But since IP addresses and usernames aren't necessary to determine general viewing practices, our lawyers have asked their lawyers to let us remove that information before we hand over the data they're seeking. (You should know, IP addresses identify a computer, not the person using it. It's not possible to determine your identity solely based on your IP address. Rather, an IP address can reveal what geographic area you're connecting from, or which Internet service provider you're using.)
Why do we keep this information in the first place? It helps us personalize the YouTube experience, getting you closer to the videos you most want to watch. We have many features on the site that help users discover and share compelling content, and we're improving the video experience through recommendations, related videos, and personalized directories that help you find meaningful videos.
We'll continue to fight for your right to share and broadcast your work. The court did impose some encouraging limits -- they agreed with us that Viacom should not have access to private videos or our search technology. Also, the information we provide will be designated highly confidential under court order and only Viacom's outside counsel and experts will have access to it.
Legal matters aside, our focus remains on providing you with the best possible YouTube experience and we continue to be committed to protecting your privacy. Every day, millions of creative people from around the world are posting new, original content. You, our community, are creating the YouTube experience now and tomorrow.
The YouTube Team