Guy Sues Google And Bing For Returning Photos Of Him In Search Results

from the when-all-you-have-is-a-hammer-handle... dept

Hypothetical: someone has posted photos of a person on a website, attached to text suggesting the individual had done something that, if true, the person probably wouldn't want made public. The person in the photos would like these photos removed (and presumably the posts themselves). Who should they approach sue about this?

1. The party that posted the photos and text?
2. The website hosting the photos and text?
3. Google.
4. And Bing... I guess.
The correct answer isn't the easiest answer. Hence, the popularity of options 2-4. Section 230 protects the website from posts of its users (in most cases). And Google (and other search engines) are twice-removed from the original post and do nothing but provide search results from indexed websites.

Thomas Maczuzak feels Google and Bing should be responsible for these posts. After a few failed DMCA takedown requests (including one inexplicably targeting a photo he apparently uploaded himself), Maczuzak has decided to go federal. Now, it's Maczuzak v. Google and Bing in a lawsuit that's almost certainly on its way towards being tossed.
Multiple websites have published the copyright infringing images marked Exhibit 'A’ though [sic] 'F’ (hereafter, the “Images”) on their websites…
Great call-out on the websites (which are never listed by name in the lawsuit, but are liarscheatersandbastards.com, liarscheatersus.com, and cheaterreport.com -- oh, and abb.com, which is apparently Maczuzak's business and features the following photo -- which is also Exhibit A in the list of images he wants vanished).

[At ABB:]


Here comes the changeup:
...and, Google.com and Bing.com each display the Images in its search results.
And there goes the lawsuit.
On information and belief, defendant has conducted acts of copyright infringement.
But they haven't, as they didn't upload, distribute or host the copyrighted photos.
Plaintiff is the authorized copyright agent for the infringing Images.

Plaintiff is the copyright owner of the Images.
Well… maybe. One of the photos listed in the exhibits looks like a selfie, so that's probably Maczuzak's.


And two are of his wife, which conceivably could have been taken by Thomas.


But the rest appear to have been taken by someone else, so chances are -- unless Maczuzak has asked the photographers to assign him the copyright (unlikely, since they appear to be informal photos in social settings) -- both of these statements may be false.




Even if Maczuzak decides to refile this lawsuit correctly (going after the parties who posted the photos to the listed sites), he still may not have a valid copyright complaint.

Maczuzak then goes on to turn this into some sort of hybrid defamfringement case.
Defendants use of the Images is directly resulting in severe harm to Plaintiff resulting in defamation, disparagement and invasion of privacy to Plaintiff.

As a direct result of Defendant’s use of the Images, Plaintiff has been severely harmed, ridicules [sic], and suffered direct loss to reputation, loss of business, shame and dishonor and egregious harm and damage.
Of course, none of these are the damages one suffers from copyright infringement. Damages in copyright infringement suits are tied to lost sales, whether theoretical or actual. In Maczuzak's case, whatever market exists for the photos he may or may not own appears to be limited to vengeful posts at a few "cheaters" sites.

All Maczuzak is asking for (in his "prayer for relief") is that Google and Bing delist the photos. Of course, he's already asked Google once and was told no. (Takedowns were presumably sent to Bing as well, but since Bing doesn't participate in this sort of DMCA transparency, it can't be confirmed.) Now, he thinks a court's going to make this happen.

While I sympathize with his desire to make the bad stuff go away, nothing about his approach is going to make that happen. The claims against Maczuzak aren't something I'm going to speculate about, simply because it's none of my business. In fact, I'd argue it's no one's business beyond the involved parties and (presumably) their attorneys. And while the internet has proven to provide an outlet for vindictive behavior, it's hardly Google/Bing's fault -- not in the moral sense, and more importantly, not in the legal sense.














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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 7:42am

    'Stop looking behind the curtain', not the best legal strategy

    As a direct result of Defendant’s use of the Images, Plaintiff has been severely harmed, ridicules [sic], and suffered direct loss to reputation, loss of business, shame and dishonor and egregious harm and damage.

    Replace a few words and this claim becomes a lot more accurate.

    As a direct result of Plaintiff's decision to sue over the Images, Plaintiff has been severely harmed, ridicules [sic], and suffered direct loss to reputation, loss of business, shame and dishonor and egregious harm and damage.

    If the images were causing him problems before now, I imagine those problems have gotten a whole lot worse since he filed his lawsuit, given how many people know about and have seen them now who hadn't before.

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

  • identicon
    Digitari, 19 Oct 2015 @ 9:43am

    fitting

    what a bastard, he is cheating the system, someone should post pics of him on some cheater or bastard blog..... Oh wait!

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

  • identicon
    Glen, 19 Oct 2015 @ 9:48am

    Who do you go after?

    Steve Dallas said it best back in 1986:

    http://www.gocomics.com/bloomcounty/1986/06/22/

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 9:51am

    Of course, these days you can't discount the possibility that he plans to ride the Streisand Effect to popular notoriety, and then run for President.

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

  • identicon
    Roman, 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:05am

    The stupidest part about this whole thing is he thinks any actually uses Bing.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 19 Oct 2015 @ 11:45am

    5. The party with the largest bank account.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Oct 2015 @ 5:56pm

    This is fallout from the insane belief that Google is the internet.
    When governments, **AA's, et al. talk about the "Internet" Google is the first (and often) final word.
    Legislation is aimed at making Google culpable for all of the alleged sins of the internet, as if they can wave a magic wand and make everything perfect.
    While I think we all deserve Google Fiber, they are still not behind the entire internet.
    This does help highlight those who are supposed to be in charge still have no concept of how things actually work, tech iv evil voodoo magic and Google is the high priest.

    And because I'm classy like that, I will comment about the content he is trying to suppress, perhaps doing things that motivate others to do such dramatic things isn't a good way to live ones life. Focusing more attention to the content will only draw much more attention to it.
    I speak from first hand experience, I've had lovely things said about me and beyond mocking those comments I don't care. I focus more on being me than worrying about how people perceive me, actions speak louder than words... this guys actions speak volumes about who he is as a person.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2015 @ 8:11pm

    The real story here is that someone remembered Bing existed.

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

  • icon
    reputationdotca (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 9:41am

    Towing the Google party line

    This guy has a legitimate complaint. The sites he posted on are likely setup to extort the victims. You can probably pay through third parties to get the posts removed. No one would care if Google didn't rank these posts high and put the images in their results. They are facilitating the extortion.

    I see tons of little guys on the web defending Google. The truth is they are willing to totally invade people's privacy if that's necessary to perpetuate their business model. And their PR efforts have been so good everyone defends them.

    It's funny until it happens to you and it can VERY easily.

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 9:53am

      Re: Towing the Google party line

      This guy has a legitimate complaint.

      Under what law? You seem to think it's extortion but 1) he's not suing over extortion, 2) blackmail (what the applicable offense is called in the US code) is a criminal offense, not civil, and 3) it has to involve a threat of disclosing a violation of law in exchange for compensation, which isn't the case here. That is to say, Google isn't threatening to publish information about Maczuzak's illegal activities if he doesn't pay them.

      Maczuzak then goes on to turn this into some sort of hybrid defamfringement case.

      Don't forget invasion of privacy. It's a defamfringevacy case.

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

      • icon
        reputationdotca (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re: Towing the Google party line

        The sites liarscheatersrus.com etc are probably involved in extortion (see his URL http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/extortion)

        Google allows it to happen because its technically not possible using algorithms to make a judgement about what content should be there and should not.

        I'm not the only one who thinks this. There is a special law in Europe called the right to be forgotten that would apply to this.

        Do you want to allow a pitfall like this to exist or do you want to try and stop it?

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 20 Oct 2015 @ 10:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Towing the Google party line

          Google allows it to happen

          Allowing someone else to commit extortion is illegal now?

          There is a special law in Europe called the right to be forgotten that would apply to this.

          Unfortunately for this guy, this took place in the US, where that law would be unconstitutional.

          Do you want to allow a pitfall like this to exist or do you want to try and stop it?

          What "pitfall"? That fourth parties to an offense (Maczuzak and the uploader are the first two, the web site is the third, the search engines are the fourth) are not liable for it? I am very much in favor of that. If someone is harmed, they should seek redress from the party causing the harm. That is not Google or Microsoft in this case.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2015 @ 10:05am

      Re: Towing the Google party line

      Yeah! Paying a 3rd-party website to get bad information removed is horrible! Who would do such a thing? Certainly no reputation management company would exist!

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 22 Oct 2015 @ 4:30pm

    Sue the deepest pockets

    Let me fix this for you:

    The person in the photos would like these photos removed (and presumably the posts themselves). Who should they approach sue about this that their lawyer thinks has the most money?
    1. The party that posted the photos and text?

    Nope, the party that posted the photos probably don't have much money.
    2. The website hosting the photos and text?
    No, they may only have a few million.
    3. Google.
    4. And Bing... I guess.

    There we go- they have billions, so let's sue for everything we can.

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


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