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Bob Moon: Attention YouTube watchers: Big Brother is officially watching you. All those Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert quips you've been looking at could come back to bite you.

A District Court judge ordered Google to turn over records of every clip watched on its video-sharing Web site YouTube -- that would include your username and computer address. It's all part of a lawsuit the media giant Viacom filed against Google last year.

Stacey Vanek-Smith tunes us in.


Stacey Vanek-Smith: Last year, Viacom ordered Google to take more than 100,000 videos off of YouTube, clips users had posted from Viacom's MTV and Comedy Central. Viacom said YouTube needed to pay for clips like Jon Stewart and "South Park" or take them down. A month later, it sued Google for a billion dollars.

Eric Cartman from "South Park": Maybe this will teach you to listen to authority!

Now a judge wants Google to turn over information on the people who uploaded and watched those videos. Industry analyst Rob Enderle says it's a huge blow to internet privacy.

Rob Enderle: One of the big concerns on the Web, of course, is privacy. This clearly creates problems for folks that are posting videos.

People like film student Julie Soller, who watches and uploads videos on YouTube. She says she'll probably shy away from using the site now.

Julie Soller: It does kind of leave an icky taste in my mouth regarding YouTube and Google and what I'm looking at online.

Google says it will ask Viacom to let it protect its users' identities. Michael Froomkin, a professor of law at the University of Miami, says the ruling could be overturned on appeal.

Michael Froomkin: The data that Google keeps on us gets bigger every second and gets more diverse every second, so there are going to be lots more cases like this.

Still, analyst Rob Enderle doesn't think Viacom will go after users. He says Google's pockets are looking pretty deep right now.

Enderle: Remember the networks are hurting for cash. That suddenly turns Google into the gold rush of this decade.

Enderle says damages could be huge -- thousands of dollars per video clip. And he says other networks will be watching closely.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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