Pittsburgh Couple Sues Google Over Photos Of Their House

from the that-sounds-familiar... dept

The term "the Streisand Effect" was coined back in 2005 in reference to Barbara Streisand's decision in 2003 to sue an aerial photographer who, in the process of photographing the entire west coast from a helicopter, took a photo of her house. Not only did she lose the case (and have to pay lawyers' fees), the photo of her house, that no one had paid any attention to, got a ton of traffic. If she had any claim at all (which she really didn't), it would have to do with her being a public figure. However, the situation is even more ridiculous when you're dealing with non-public figures.

Yet, here we are in a nearly identical story. Aaron and Christine Boring are a couple who live in Pittsburgh and apparently have freaked out that Google's "Street View" offering includes a photo of their home. In fact, they've sued Google claiming that the photos of their home violate their privacy and "devalue" the property. They also claim that it was trespassing because there was a clear sign saying that the road was a private road. Of course, as the AP article notes, most of the info is already public, including photos of the house which are available on the The Allegheny County real estate Web site. Of course, looking over the sets of photos, it looks as though the Google street view team may have driven up the couple's driveway a bit, which perhaps (just slightly) explains the complaint. Still, Google says that if anyone wants photos of their property removed, they just need to ask Google and prove that they own the property in question. No lawsuit needed. In the meantime, of course, just as with Streisand, the Google photos of the Borings' house are now widely available and getting a lot more attention. Apparently, the Borings don't listen to NPR.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Cynic, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Now this is priceless, especially when you consider their last name. If the date didn't say Fri, Apr 4th I'd think it was an April Fool's gag, but more is the pity, since apparently they are serious.

     

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  2.  
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    zhenchyld, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 5:53pm

    nice

    a one bedroom dump with two garages and a swimming pool on a little bit of land. that's exactly what a bachelor like me needs.

     

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  3.  
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    Charlie, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 6:03pm

    4 bedrooms and 964 square feet. Thats small for a 4 bedroom. Life in that house must be boring.

     

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  4.  
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    Randy, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 6:13pm

    Anyone consider this:

    Maybe since the pictures of the house are already on a real estate web site, they want "the Streisand Effect" to happen.

     

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  5.  
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    Eric the Grey, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 6:26pm

    Looks to me...

    Looks to me like the best they could hope for is a trespassing charge on the driver of the van. He drove up what appears to be their driveway, the apparent "private road" in the complaint.


    EtG

     

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  6.  
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    mttnry, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 7:58pm

    ha

    heres what I think probably happened-
    "hey, check out this cool google street view thing."
    "wow, neat thats really cool look up our house."
    "dag, you can even see the pool good work google."
    "Huh google has a lot of money I bet we could sue them and get some for ourselves"...

     

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  7.  
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    Chris, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 8:47pm

    Re: ha

    The private property sign was probably placed after they noticed they were on "google streets", ill attempt at some fame and money, truly the "New" American way to the "American Dream". I love my country.. I dislike alot of my countrymen!

    Am I cynical?

     

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  8.  
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    laughingman, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 9:25pm

    Re: Re: ha

    very possible

     

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  9.  
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    Tom, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 9:43pm

    he he ha ha

    I wonder if they want the money from google to plant some frickin grass...landscaping looks horrible not to mention what the hell are the two garages for?

     

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  10.  
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    Vincent Clement, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 9:51pm

    Re: Looks to me...

    And that is a slim hope at best.

     

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  11.  
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    Todd, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 10:12pm

    I don't think they have to worry too much about "devaluing" their property. Looks pretty worthless already. What a dive. I mean, a "private road" leading up to that shack?

     

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  12.  
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    um, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 5:16am

    their legal brief was boring. oh, they're 'boring' too. figures.

    as for their property, it looks like painted cardboard framed in with the cheapest wood they could find. i'd love to see the video of the drive onto their property. was there a sign there then?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 5:19am

    Re: he he ha ha

    > what the hell are the two garages for?

    Killdozer?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    devalue their property???? that place is a dump, the pool cost more than the house is worth.

    They haven't watered their yard in years, probably make meth in the those detached garages

     

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  15.  
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    El Kabong, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Devalue

    Why would anybody build those pasteboard shacks around a pool? Why would a chicken ranch have a pool anyway? What's the big secret? Anybody who's interested in buying the property is going to see it sooner or later, and there goes the sale, because nobody would buy that dump. How Boring!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    I looked at the streetview myself and there is no "Private Drive", No Trespassing, nothing on the entire gravel road.

    BTW, the images of their house have been removed from Google

     

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  17.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 7:59am

    Boring

    I think they got what they wanted; a moment of fame and the widest possible exposure to the real estate market.
    The real problem is playing into their hands by printing such nonsense.
    Of course, the better stuff to write about is controlled by the media, which is controlled by the "right wing" (should be the "wrong wing"). That we won't hear about (like, how the
    "surge" didn't really work; it was just manipulated to look that way).

     

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  18.  
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    Annonymous Predator, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 8:24am

    The reason behind the lawsuit...

    Yes, It's a dumpster - dingy, dirty, there is not even any decent looking grass. Someone pointed out the specs I belive they said - 945sq ft. 4 bedroom? Give it a break I lived in a 1 bedroom 700sq ft apartment when I lived in AZ.

    Anyway... The lawsuit - which is taking place in... COMMONWEALTH of PENNSYLVANIA... Rather than asking that the pictures be removed - they will claim that their rights had been violated - and further this with emotional distress - because Google did not remove the picture! We'll just ignore the part about "requesting that Google remove these pics would effortlessly have resolved the problem...

    Instead we'll file the lawsuit - and then CLAIM that they ignored our request for the removal... As we've seen soooooo many times on Judge Mathis... Where is the proof that you requested this... Uh-oh-Uh... I thought I had it but - I must of left it back at the shack where I sleep with my sister... Oops - did I say that out loud...

    Ok - I'm wasting time with this crap - more time than should have been spent on this... Maybe we should file suit against these people for waisting our time with their DUMP!

    Now I must drop a load to lighten up this BORING - blog!

     

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  19.  
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    shanwharmon, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 8:49am

    privacy shivevacy

    privacy was their concern so going public and having their name, address, and nearly every other detail of their life reported in most major news outlets is conistent with their desire for privacy?

     

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  20.  
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    Bill, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    They're clearly retarded and deserve to be seperated from theior money through lawyer's fees.

     

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  21.  
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    slimcat (profile), Apr 5th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    No Kidding!

    The detached garage of my last house was nearly that big.

     

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  22.  
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    Jester, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    So fitting

    You can see why the occupants are suing. They need money to finish their remodeling of the pile of crap they call a house. When people who HAVE no money, and if lived in the south would be called white trash, sue big companies in hopes of getting money it's just sad.

    Desperation is a stinky cologne. -Super Troopers

     

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  23.  
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    Triatomic Tortoise, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Boring

    "a moment of fame"?

    No way. They are jerks.

     

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  24.  
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    D. Rivers, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    Boring's house

    This is colossally boring!

     

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  25.  
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    Steven, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 6:06pm

    Excuse me?

    I'm sorry, but I fail to see any value to this property, so devaluing it would be impossable.


    And did I miss something? I can't seem to find the sign that says it's private property.


    No wonder why they are suing, they have no money! To bad they had to choose Google to go up against, they're screwed.


    "No really, my real estate agent told me that this was a 5 star home that is then envy of the neighborhood!"

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 7:30pm

    Re: he he ha ha

    In that shak they're probably growin the grass inside

     

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  27.  
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    BTR1701, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 8:30pm

    Amazing

    I think I'd be a little peeved also (but not to the point of filing a lawsuit) if some guy from Google showed up and started photographing my home and trespassing on my property to do it. The underlying arrogance of that company is amazing. They act like everything is fair game for them to put on the internet and if they have to violate a copyright or trespass on someone's property to do it, well then so be it.

    If I caught them doing this to me (and given the layout of my property, they'd have to do more than come up my driveway "a little bit" to photograph my home), I wouldn't sue them but the Google cameraman might get a little ass-kickin' for his trouble.

     

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  28.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 9:17pm

    I'm from the South and...

    ...if people showed up in my long private driveway, they might get shot. And I wouldn't be breaking any laws, either.

    Google very clearly violated their privacy, although I think the home devaluation claim is fluff. Although I detest the lack of Internet privacy, I accept it, esp. because I can choose to not put private information on the Internet. But when people bring that lack of respect to my home, I will sue you... But only if the shots miss.

     

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  29.  
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    sailbum, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 12:55am

    Thank g-d the Google camera man was not in Louisiana; he would have come out of it with a load of buckshot in his backside at best or left feet first in a box at worst. They do not take kindly to trespassers down in the bayou! In any case, this suit is a little rediculous. I do not see how they could prove any damages from having their POS house photographed.

     

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  30.  
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    CRS, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 7:37am

    Privacy?

    Look, it appears that clearly these folks are simply trying
    to dig into the deep pockets of Google. Look at their property then read their claim. They claim emotional stress? Whatever emotional stress they are under it's due to other issues. Their property looks abandoned anyway....They should be prosecuted for this frivolous lawsuit.

     

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  31.  
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    garrick, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    "Barbara Streisand"

    Barbra Streisand, not Barbara.

    Silly lawsuits.

     

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  32.  
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    mojo, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    typical of frivilous suits....claim emotional distress....and it6 was caused by property devalue. have they checked the NATIONWIDE trend with property values....

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous jerk, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    Pictures have been taken down from Google

    As of just now!!

     

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  34.  
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    Jay, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 7:57pm

    Seriously?

    I've got some news for the Borings...

    Google isn't to be blamed for their depreciating property value it is a lethal combination of a poor housing market and a HORRIBLE lawn! Get off Google's back, and put your time into putting some grass seed down. Not to mention the fact that there is a wooden board covering their front door without a stoop or step of any kind. Get over yourselves, if anyone wants to buy your ranch, they are going to go through a Realtor, not Google maps.

     

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  35.  
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    paul, Apr 6th, 2008 @ 10:19pm

    i would be mad

    yeah the value stuff is fluff. but look at the pictures the camera man had to drive practically to the end of the drive way to get the picture of the pool.

    I don't see where that has any public value. House aside. He went to far.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    So Google goes to the trouble of sending out vans to photograph things but it is up to the homeowner to request the pictures to come down?

    Thats kind of like being a shoplifter walking out with stuff and then claiming that he would have gladly paid for it had he been asked.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 7th, 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    So Google goes to the trouble of sending out vans to photograph things but it is up to the homeowner to request the pictures to come down? Thats kind of like being a shoplifter walking out with stuff and then claiming that he would have gladly paid for it had he been asked.

    Except, that no, you're entirely wrong. Taking a photo of property is not illegal (it's not "shoplifting"). So, it's perfectly legal to put it up. In fact, there's no requirement that they should then have to take it down. Google doing so is because the company is being nice, not through some sort of legal reason.

    So, you're basically 100% wrong on your analogy.

     

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  38.  
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    didn't anyone notice why, Apr 7th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    they might be so mad. Take a look at what the county assessors' office says is on the property compared to what they actually have. Me thinks their property taxes are about to go up. Maybe that is why they are trying to sue Google.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2008 @ 6:18pm

    So tresspassing isn't illegal Mike? I think it is so you are entirely wrong.

    Nice? I think not. So basically you are 100% wrong in your post, you dick. FU and have a good day.

     

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  40.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:09am

    Re:

    So tresspassing isn't illegal Mike? I think it is so you are entirely wrong.

    Er... you should try reading a bit before making such incorrect statements. The original comment was about Google just sending out regular photographing vehicles, which had *nothing* to do with trespassing. Almost all of the street view photos are taken from the street.

    Whether or not this is trespassing is a separate issue than the comment I was responding to.

     

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  41.  
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    sandy, Apr 20th, 2008 @ 7:40pm

    they sound like a couple of "Pittsburgh rednecks" to me

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 7:00am

    They are probably just embarrassed that people will be able to see the dump they live in. Why would they have wasted their money on that shack? They are just a couple of free loading weirdos looking to get some quick money from a law suit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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