In a landmark ruling this week, a judge in New York ordered YouTube to release data on the viewing habits of millions of viewers worldwide. Privacy advocates are alarmed at the prospect of viewing habits being opened to scrutiny.
The decision follows a $1bn lawsuit brought about by Viacom (the owner of channels like MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon). Viacom alleged that YouTube encouraged people to upload significant amounts of pirated copyrighted programmes.
Yes, everyone knows: uploading copyrighted videos is illegal and steps should be taken to protect DRM. It is something many in the industry have called for time and time again. But User Generated Content (UGC) has grown exponentially and the latest devices make uploading our own content much easier.
So, could the prospect of users' details being scrutinised by large corporates put off people from signing up and using sites like YouTube? 2007 was the year that saw UGC take off, could 2008/2009 see its demise? This is a debate the industry will be following closely.