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.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Pittsburgh Couple Sues Google Over Photos Of Their House”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:


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).

Annonymous Predator says:

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!

Steven says:

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!”

BTR1701 (profile) says:


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.

Rose M. Welch says:

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.

sailbum says:

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.

CRS says:


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.

Jay says:


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.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...