YouTube trail leads to trial over TV tripe
As part of a billion-dollar copyright lawsuit, a judge is letting Viacom get access to all our viewing histories on YouTube to prove that many, if not most, of us primarily use the site to watch illegally copied content.
Don't freak out. Unless you've got enemies in very high places who can connect the dots, your dirty little secrets (or at least PG-13 secrets - there's no porn on YouTube) should be safe.
But just the hint that such leaks are possible sparked a vivid nightmare, in which I was on trial for my YouTube way of life, and I still remember it verbatim. Hopefully, it will be as enlightening as it is not prophetic:
Plaintiff's Attorney: OK, "Mr. Slob," if that is your real name.
Digital Slob: Actually, it's more of a stage name. I write a consumer technology col-
PA: Where were you on the night of Monday, Sept. 10, 2007?
DS: Well, Monday is usually Taco Bell night. ...
PA: Let the record show I'm handing the witness a printout of his online activity from the night in question. Did you watch a YouTube video from the "Leave Britney Alone!" guy at 8:41 p.m.?
DS: Looks like it. So what?
PA: "So what" indeed. There would be no "so what," as you so adroitly put it, if that was all. But you DIDN'T leave Britney alone, did you, Mr. Slob? In fact, what else did you download from YouTube eight minutes later?
DS: Britney's wobbly spectacle on MTV's Video Music Awards.
PA: "Watched," or stole from MTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom, which holds all rights to said performance?
DS: Look, it was right there in a list of related videos. I had to see what he was raving about.
PA: Would you call this an isolated crime, a crime of passion?
DS: Um, no and no.
PA: Turn to Page 2,109. Just two weeks ago you also downloaded a video of Hannah Montana. Aren't you a little old to be constantly skulking around leering at teen starlets?
Defendant's Attorney: Objection, your honor! Argumentative!
Judge: Overruled. The witness clearly has issues.
DS: Look, my wife heard her song on the radio and didn't know who she was. So I was like, 'I can't believe you've never seen Hannah,' so I searched and, boom, "Best of Both Worlds."
PA: And never mind that sociopaths like you are costing Disney millions of dollars?
DS: My wife bought a Hannah Montana album. Does Disney consider that dirty money?
(Gallery cheers) PA: I'll ask the questions! You're the authority on "dirty," aren't you, Mr. Slob? Or should I say, "Mr. Perv"?
Judge: Order! The witness will refrain from answers that don't directly address the questions.
DS: Look, you don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about, your Disneys, your Viacoms, your Time Warners know they NEED me on that YouTube, they WANT me on that YouTube! Because eventually it pollutes my brain to the point where I have to go out and buy whatever they're selling.
PA: Judge, he just stole that whole speech from Time Warner's "A Few Good Men."
DS: Yeah, there's this hilarious monkey parody of that whole scene on my favorites list. You want to see it, judge?
Judge: Fifteen-minute recess.