Department of Civil Disobedience: Google Should Deliver Its YouTube Data to Viacom in Paper Form

The recent court order directing Google to hand over data to Viacom about every YouTube video ever watched strikes many people as an absurd overreach of the law into the privacy of anyone who has ever used YouTube (i.e., almost everyone on the Internet). Google should definitely keep fighting the ruling if it can.

But if it can’t, perhaps it should comply with it in a creative way. The data in question are data logs containing the records of every video watched on YouTube, by whom, and at what times. The court is also ordering that Google hand over all videos that have ever been taken down for any reason. The logs alone take up 12 terabytes. Google should print them out and deliver them on paper.

It would literally fill up the Library of Congress. That is roughly the equivalent of all the printed books in the Library of Congress (by one estimate, others put it at 20 terabytes—either way, it’s a lot of paper). The court order never states what form, the data must be delivered in.

(Photo via, appropriately enough, the Library of Congress And hat tip to reader Paul Christiansen for the original suggestion).