Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Google Over Streetview Photos Of Home

from the rather-boring-afterall dept

You may recall last year that a couple in Pittsburgh, Aaron and Christine Boring, got freaked out after they found photos of their home on Google Maps using the "Street View" feature. So, rather than use the tools provided to opt-out, they did what any American would do: they sued Google, claiming a variety of offenses from privacy violations to "devaluing" their property. The whole lawsuit seemed rather pointless: the couple could have easily used the options provided to have their photo taken down, and in filing the lawsuit they brought much more attention to the photos of their home online.

It appears that a judge has agreed, dismissing the entire lawsuit while noting the pointlessness of the lawsuit. The court noted that there was no evidence as to why the photos were offensive or damaging, and the fact that the couple chose not to use the available tools to opt-out basically killed their entire argument.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    another suit looking to hit the court cash jackpot.

     

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  2.  
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    Mapper99, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    Original Google Street View Images Here...

     

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

  3.  
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    HereIAm, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    BS Lawsuit, but wasn't Google at fault?

    Every article I've read mentions Google had to drive on their private driveway to take the street view photos. If they had "no trespassing" or "private drive" signs posted, isn't Google at fault?

     

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  4.  
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    Dave, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Bye bye privacy

    The people were pretty stupid to go about it the way they did, but I TOTALLY agree that Google street view is an invasion of privacy. I hate the fact that I have to go hunt down places on-line that are violating my privacy and opt-out through their process. They shouldn't be allowed to be that invasive in the first place.

    But now that this lawsuit has been tossed out, Google can use it as an established precedent against any further privacy complaints.

    Coming soon: Google Shower View!

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: BS Lawsuit, but wasn't Google at fault?

    I agree completely. This lawsuit was ridiculous. The Borings should be made to pay Google's attorney fees. However, Google has no right to enter private property to take their pictures.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    non-story, Moving on.

     

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  7.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Re: Bye bye privacy

    "I TOTALLY agree that Google street view is an invasion of privacy."

    Are you saying that all of Google Streets is an invasion of privacy? I'm of the opinion that Google has no right to enter private property to take its pictures, like it did in this case.

    However, as long as the pictures used are taken from a public place, there is no invasion of privacy. If you want privacy, do not leave the privacy of your house. If you don't want people looking at your house, build a wall. Once you step foot in the public realm, any right to privacy you have ends.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: BS Lawsuit, but wasn't Google at fault?

    In the united states you do not own the area above or below your property unless otherwise specifically contracted.

     

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  9.  
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    Guy One, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: Bye bye privacy

    Public View is NOT Private! if you are taking a shower outside of your house,in your front yard, than yes google (and any one with eyes) has a right to view it.

     

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  10.  
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    HereIAm, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: BS Lawsuit, but wasn't Google at fault?

    I understand that. Apparently Google drove down this couple's private driveway. That's trespassing.

     

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  11.  
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    Lucretious, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    Re: Bye bye privacy

    Be thankful you can "opt-out" at all. Standing on a public street/sidewalk and viewing your house isn't illegal. Neither is taking a picture and putting it up for public view.

     

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  12.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: BS Lawsuit, but wasn't Google at fault?

    You're confusing Google Streets with Google Maps. No one is complaining about a satellite photograph here.

     

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  13.  
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    Grandpa, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    Gen-E

    Legal, not legal, imo, it does not matter. There was a time when this sort of thing was considered plain rude.

    Unfortunately with Gen-E (Entitlement), etiquette is something old, and long forgotten.

     

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  14.  
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    interval, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    Re: Gen-E

    @Grandpa: "There was a time when this sort of thing was considered plain rude."

    Yes, back in the good old days the only videos not rude were when you were invited to shoot your barbershop quartet and post it on youtube. Back when the Stanley Steamer was the hottest rod on the road and you could buy a house for a quarter.

    Maybe the times are a little different and require a slight re-think now Gramps.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re: Gen-E

    lol

     

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  16.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Re: Gen-E

    "There was a time when this sort of thing was considered plain rude."

    And of course the fact that the technology behind Google Streets did not exist had nothing to do with it.

    It's like when people complain about how rude people are nowadays with their cell phones. As if the exact same problems would not have existed back in the 40s, if cell phones had been widely available back then.

     

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  17.  
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    Selina, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Who Cares

    No "strangers" know you live there anyway. And chances are if they do, they already know what your house looks like. There are no pictures of you and your family by the house. There are tools for looking up addresses, phone numbers, now a picture of your house. If people have access to your address they already can find out how to get there. Just add it to the list. But I do agree do not go onto someones driveway for a picture. This particular case had the backyard too!

     

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  18.  
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    NullOp, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Google suit

    Anyone can drive down the street and look at your home. If you're stupid enough to believe you have any level of privacy then you are one sad case! The people living in gated communities, liberals, are the ones that think its an invasion of privacy to have a picture of your home on the internet. When they sell their home maybe they'll draw a picture rather than post a pic.

     

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  19.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    I HATE PEOPLE LOOKING AT MY HOUSE!

    GAWD! I AM SOOO FUCKING TIRED OF PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO LOOK AT MY HOUSE! WHAT AN INVASION OF PRIVACY! SHIT, JUST THE OTHER DAY, I SAW THE MAILMAN LOOKING AT MY HOUSE. WHAT A FUCKING OUTRAGE!

    THEN, JUST THIS MORNING, A PERSON WAS WALKING BY WITH THEIR DOG, AND *BOTH* OF THEM LOOKED AT MY HOUSE, AT THE SAME TIME!

    I FEEL SO NAKED AND VULNERABLE! WHAT CAN I DO??

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    damn fucktards

    people are so stupid

     

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  21.  
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    Erik, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    You have to be kidding

    Bye Bye Privacy? I will be the first to say that I respect your right to an opinion, but also respectfully disagree. Isn't it safe to say that ANYONE driving down your street would have the same view? What does it matter that someone recorded it? I could do the same thing on my own and drive around with a camera. We are getting a bit paranoid as a society I think. All I can see is people with tinfoil on their head to keep the government from reading their thoughts....
    I think that taking a picture on the beach is more invasive since you inadvertently capture others in the background.

    My 2 cents.

     

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  22.  
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    Droslovinia, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Privacy?

    I love the way NullOp slides his fascist slant into the conversation. Well done! It's good to know that your average right-wing survivalist nut will be happy to let people drive by and take pictures of his hideout whenever they want.

    But seriously, it's hard to claim privacy when in the public's view. On the other hand, trespassing is illegal, if it actually occurred in this case. I'm kind of doubting that it really did, since that is something that could have made that boring suit a lot more viable. Also, if someone uses your image for profit without your consent, you might have a good case that they've commercially exploited you, but evidently, if you're boring you can't make that argument.

     

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  23.  
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    Paul`, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Bye bye privacy

    Well the obvious thing is to move your house out of the line of sight of public property.

     

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  24.  
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    DS, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

    Wow... I expect better from Techdirt... so you're all cool with Google driving into private property to take pictures of things?

     

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  25.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 18th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Bye bye privacy

    I'm always intrigued when people make your claims, and I've yet to hear a convincing, coherent argument.

    When these street views are taken, it's a capture of what's happening on a PUBLIC road. What you do therefore, is in PUBLIC, and you have no right to privacy while in PUBLIC. There is nothing that can appear on Google Street View that cannot be seen by the naked eye by anybody driving down the street at any time.

    Now, I understand a few minor privacy concerns, such as the possibility of being captured during a compromising action that you wouldn't wish made public (though, again, why were you doing that in full view of the public roads?). But, this is why you have faces blurred, etc. as well as the options to opt out, etc. Google's vans aren't driving up to people windows and taking pictures of their bedrooms, they're merely recording a public view from the public highway.

    Please explain to me why a view of your house that can be seen by anyone at any time driving down your street - "private road" or not - is suddenly an invasion of privacy if Google has it. If you can explain that coherently, maybe you'll have a case against Google. This couple couldn't, so their case was tossed out. Simple.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Feb 18th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    Where was the private property indicated?

    Everything I've seen about this case suggests that the road was marked as public on a map, and there were no "private property" signs around. Therefore, the driver had no way of knowing they were on private property until they were at the house.

    If you value your privacy that much, maybe you should let people know they're entering private property? At least then you might have some kind of defensible argument...

     

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  27.  
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    Vincent Clement, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 5:21pm

    Re:

    You mean "another suit looking to hit the Google cash jackpot".

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Re: Gen-E

    Hey Grandpa - get off my lawn !

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Dave, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    Bye Bye Privacy

    I love privacy fights. Everybody always brings up the whole "well I could walk down the street and look at your house, or even take a picture!" argument.

    Seriously folks... I'm not concerned about any average person walking down the street looking at my house, or even taking pictures of my house.

    I'm concerned about a multi-billion dollar corporation taking millions of pictures of every house in the country and posting them on a very highly used internet site, and tagging each one with that house's address.

    I don't care if you personally go take a picture of my house and put it on your blog.

    We're talking about aggregate actions that affect the entire nation, not just me.

    But go ahead and embrace everything Google gives you, and don't worry about big brother at all.

    Your privacy stance will change the first time you get stalked, or when you have a little kid who is being followed by some perv.

     

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  30.  
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    operaman, Feb 20th, 2009 @ 2:56am

    Re: google street view

    I'm glad you think so!

     

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  31.  
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    operaman, Feb 20th, 2009 @ 3:01am

    Re: Google suit

    If you look at realtor.com there ARE listings that don't have pictures posted. This is wrong!

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    LauraLee, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Re: Who Cares

    Oh yes, if your family is outside when they come around, they get shot in the picture and posted. My next door neighbor's children are standing in the yard about four feet from the street looking at the camera, and the two year old is more than clearly on there. My child is on there just a few feet back too.

    THAT should not happen!

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Selina, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Who Cares

    You're still not getting it. People would still have to know your address to look up your house on the site. I was saying that there aren't pictures near address listings. If they find your house they already know your address! maybe you have a suit then!

     

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  34.  
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    Canadian, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Dumb american lawsuit rules

    In Canada, that couple would think twice about going to a lawsuit since they could be held responsible for the legal fees of the other party. This forces people with viable probable claims through the court system rather than dumb people like these.

    C

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 8:51pm

    I feel many points are being overlooked and many people are approaching this issue from a position of indifference..... bad move.


    1.Consent- The issue here is publishing my person and effects through a public medium. Due etiquette which we all tacitly understand tells us that if you intend to capture someone’s image or an image of their property and publish it through a revenue generating medium, then consent is called for.

    2. Privacy- If you are within the boundaries of your own private property, this is a PRIVATE domain and NOT a public one. Therefore no person has the right to capture another’s image on their own private property without consent or permission. Of course the argument is “what do you want me to do, close my eyes when I walk past your property?” Of course this will elicit my firm response of NO, however I will apprehend you if you start taking pictures of me, making an inventory of my belongings, and publish them through a public medium whose sole intent is to generate income.

    3. Trespassing- Google has trespassed countless times and the proof of this is obviously photographed. Private property rules outlined by local and state ordinances exist for a reason….. to promote the safety, security, privacy and solace of the owners. Each person on this planet is faced with civil penalties in the event that they wantonly disobey private property boundaries and trespass at will, and the same shall be expected of any corporation including Google and its street-view driving team. I am mainly making this point for those who live on private drives or in rural areas.

    4. Another argument being raised is that there are cameras throughout the world and these are no different. My point exactly! I do not appreciate cameras in shopping malls, gas stations, street corners, etc., and I confess that I find this to be a painful exhibition and by no means flattering to the national standard of honesty, honor and trust. We all have the inherent right to pass through this world without having our pictures taken, movements recorded, and civic outings archived through a camera. The ubiquitous presence of cameras implies to all of us that we are not to be trusted, we must fear for our safety and above all- you’re being watched, so maintain good behavior and for god’s sake don’t pick your nose!

    5. Use by employers- In numerous states discrimination lawsuits were filed because potential employers would drive past the private residences of potential new hires. The purpose? If the house was a slum, unkempt or plain disgusting then this would obviously reflect the character of the person applying for a job. Google street views make this all too easy and without any way of the potential employer being caught in the act.

    PS
    1984 is a chilling a true tale of a dystopic world watched and levied by controlling powers. The generation succeeding the publishing of this book in 1949 completely understood this and acted accordingly. We now live in an era of wanton diversions, mindless entertainments, and relentless white noise which makes us numb to the very ideas analyzed in this book. Turn off the TV, read the book and digest the world for what it is becoming.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    todd, Jul 22nd, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Google earth

    First off I agree with most I dislike the street view from Google maps, but my question to everyone is the fact that my wife, and two grand daughters are in the street view and full face shots, we had no idea until someone Googled my addy. My front yard is not a public place right? I really don't like it is there anything we can do about it?

     

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


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