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YouTube Coughs up Names in Piracy Case

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I wrote previously about how Fox was getting short with YouTube over users who were uploading commercial-free full copies of hit shows such as 24, and The Simpsons. YouTube was served with subpoenas demanding and information YouTube had that could help Fox identify at least one user, who went by the name ECOTtotal, and possibly more.

Now Nicholas Carlson of is reporting that YouTube has complied with the request, as they are legally bound to do unless they intend on challenging them in court.

In an e-mail to, a 20th Century Fox Television spokesperson said that Google and Live Digital complied with subpoenas issued by the U.S. District Court in Northern California and disclosed to Fox the identities of two individuals who illegally uploaded entire episodes of "24" prior to its broadcast and DVD release.

Live Digital is another video sharing service that Fox was also targeting.

YouTube had previously instituted a 10-minute limitation on the length of clips that users can upload to their service in order to prevent users from uploading entire television shows and feature films, but it hasn't had much of an effect. People simply cut the TV shows into three or four parts and uploaded them in series. The last time I looked a few months ago, the front page of YouTube features a number of videos that were parts to Fox's hit drama Prison Break.

As one can imagine, users may think twice about uploading illegal material to YouTube in the future if they fear that the service will actively assist copyright owners in discovering their identities, subsequently landing them on the business end of an expensive lawsuit.

Fox is especially upset about the episodes of 24 that were uploaded because they were made available online a week before they were broadcast. It is not uncommon for people with the right equipment to intercept unprotected satellite transmissions from networks to affiliate stations, who get television shows well in advance of their initial screening.

Based on statements made by Fox, I believe they intend to make an example out of ECOTtotal, and find it unlikely that they'll accept any kind of settlement should they find the actual person behind the crime.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.