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Judge Dismisses Google Street View Case

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the never-go-against-the-google dept.

Google 258

angry tapir writes "A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Pennsylvania family against Google after the company took and posted images of the outside of their house in its Maps service. The lawsuit, filed in April 2008, drew attention because it sought to challenge Google's right to take street-level photos for its Maps' Street View feature. Judge Amy Reynolds Hay from the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted Google's request for dismissing the lawsuit because 'the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under any count.'"

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roadkill (4, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910257)

My favorite Google Street View story: Google Maps Car Hits Deer [gizmodo.com] .

Just like the settlement it reached with book authors, Google could give $66 to each homeowner photographed by StreetView. We could call that agreement the Google stimulus package :-)

There is a serious discussion to be had about privacy rights and Google's objective to picture, reference and catalog everything. Some inside Google take the "do no evil" to heart. Street View blurs faces and license plates.

Good, but I wish it didn't have to be voluntary. We know what voluntary compliance by various industries lead to. That's why privacy laws have to set clear boundaries. In the dismissed lawsuit, note that the Google driver did enter a private road by mistake. Mistakes in sensitive privacy situations can be very damaging.

--
Join a FairSoftware Project [fairsoftware.net] : share the revenue, be part of important decisions

Re:roadkill (2, Insightful)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910287)

Just like the settlement it reached with book authors, Google could give $66 to each homeowner photographed by StreetView.

That would just be silly and expensive. Nothing more.

Re:roadkill (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911201)

That would just be silly and expensive. Nothing more.

Lawsuits are very often silly and expensive too, but you're right, that would if anything just alert people that they might be able to get more money.

Re:roadkill (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910329)

Google driver did enter a private road by mistake. There is now available a very sophisticated bit of technology that is guaranteed to ensure that this never happens again. I believe the scientific name for the device is a "gate".

Re:roadkill (2, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910367)

IF car EQUALS allowed to be there THEN open ELSE fire missiles

Re:roadkill (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911195)

this checks for it once. I believe the proper stub code is as follows:

5 REM based on code by Wandering Wombat
10 IF car$ = "allowed to be there" THEN GOSUB 30 ELSE GOSUB 40
20 GOTO 10
30 REM open gate code goes here
35 REM RETURN would be nice but why, when you can see how fast that guy can floor it 'cause...
40 REM fire missiles code goes here
45 RETURN

Re:roadkill (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911519)

You appear to be testing whether the car is equal to the constant expression 'allowed to be here' rather than testing whether the 'allowed to be here' property for the car is true. Since you are comparing things of two different types for equality, it seems that the most likely result of this will be to fire missiles at everything that approaches.

Remind me not to visit your house...

Re:roadkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911605)

// buzzkill
if (raven.isPedant()) { this.groan(); this.rollEyes(); }

Re:roadkill (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910389)

No.
We can not afford to continue down the vein of 'If it isn't locked, then you deserve what happens to you' line of thinking.
It's crap, it's harmful, and it only empowers criminals, and insurance companies...but I repeat myself.

Re:roadkill (4, Insightful)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910709)

No. We can not afford to continue down the vein of 'If it isn't locked, then you deserve what happens to you' line of thinking. It's crap, it's harmful, and it only empowers criminals, and insurance companies...but I repeat myself.

Do you care to explain why? I think it is perfectly reasonable to drive down someone's driveway, and unless they tell me to leave, post notices prohibiting it, or make the drive inaccessible. There are certainly harmless and perfectly legitimate reasons to enter another's property. Why institute a blanket prohibition?

Re:roadkill (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910997)

Well, at least in certain countries, you're not allowed to enter another persons private property without authorization... because it's not your property.

It is NOT perfectly reasonable to drive down someone else's drive any more than it's perfectly reasonable to enter someone elses house when the door is open and use their exercise equipment.

Just because you *could* doesn't mean you *can*.

Re:roadkill (2, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911169)

And what if you are in the country and there isnt anything to mark it as a private driveway rather than a side street? Pretty common where I live.

Re:roadkill (5, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911185)

I disagree. Approaching someone's door [almost] always requires stepping onto their private property without their prior consent. Until that is not the norm, you cannot institute a blanket ban on the practice.

Re:roadkill (2, Insightful)

NerdyLove (1133693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911347)

So you're saying if I end up at a dead end, I shouldn't use someone's drive to turn around? Many people have short driveways. Sorry, try again.

Re:roadkill (1)

yiantsbro (550957) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911733)

Do you care to explain why? I think it is perfectly reasonable to drive down someone's driveway, and unless they tell me to leave, post notices prohibiting it, or make the drive inaccessible. There are certainly harmless and perfectly legitimate reasons to enter another's property. Why institute a blanket prohibition?

I'm sorry but to me that reasoning sounds too much like "If you have nothing to hide then why should you worry about being under constantly monitored (video, phone intercepts, etc.)". Google isn't a government entity but it is an entity other than myself. I should be entitled to my privacy from anyone--even non-evil-doers.

Re:roadkill (0, Troll)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910719)

If I leave the door to my home open and come home to find that my things are missing, I was an idiot for leaving the door open.

Re:roadkill (3, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910781)

Yes, but that doesn't justify what the thieves did.

Re:roadkill (5, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910895)

You're an idiot for leaving your door open, and the person who took it is a thief who deserves fines and jail time. Blame and fault are not zero-sum games.

Re:roadkill (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910965)

That does not mitigate the fact that your property was stolen and you house was in fact burglarized. I agree we must stop this stupid idea that if I can see it it is mine.

Re:roadkill (5, Insightful)

brusk (135896) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911319)

What an inane straw man you've created. Does anyone think, "if I can see it it is mine?" Of course not. If I park my car on the side of a (public) road or in my (private) driveway, the theft of it is the same crime. No one seriously argues that taking a parked car is "okay" because it's in a public place. The only question is whether there are privately owned places that are publicly accessible. And the answer in most places is an emphatic YES. That includes driveways, front walkways, etc. But it does NOT follow from that that the users of those spaces then somehow get rights over that place. It remains privately-owned, and a random person can't, for instance, remove the paving stones from in front of my house without expecting legal consequences. It's easy enough to keep the two sets of rights separate, unless you are willfully obtuse.

Re:roadkill (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911191)

Google didn't steal anything. If you leave the door to your home open and come home to find that someone is photographing your things, you are still an idiot for leaving your door open, but your analogy will be closer to what Google did. (Depending on your neighborhood, you might not even be an idiot, but since I was mimicking your post, I thought it would sound funnier that way.)

Re:roadkill (5, Funny)

KeithJM (1024071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911509)

If you leave the door to your home open and come home to find that someone is photographing your things

The next product from Google Labs! It's like Google search for your PC, it's Google House View (beta). Can't remember what your bathroom floor looks like, can't see it from the sofa, and you're too lazy to stand up? Google can help!

Re:roadkill (4, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910993)

We can not afford to continue down the vein of 'If it isn't locked, then you deserve what happens to you' line of thinking.

But there is two sides to things here.

Yes, you can't have a blanket "if it isn't locked" type of rule, because that would lead to chaos.

However, you can't have a blanket rule the other way too far either.
I mean, if you were wandering about outside some evening, and accidentally walked on someones private property that you didn't realize was theirs but thought was still public... What are you to do when you discover your mistake?

Most people would leave if told of that fact. You say 'whoops, my bad' and go away off the private property back the way you came.
I don't believe we need to make that person a criminal for such a small and easily fixable mistake.

I don't know, i wasn't there, but it could easily have been just that type of mistake as it is to be a malicious attack on someones privacy by the Google van.

I'm fairly sure when asked that Google does remove photos people are in. That is similar to saying 'whoops, our bad, we will fix it' to me.

Maybe I'm missing something here for a reason the Google van drivers aren't getting the benefit of the doubt?

Re:roadkill (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911601)

I mean, if you were wandering about outside some evening, and accidentally walked on someones private property that you didn't realize was theirs but thought was still public... What are you to do when you discover your mistake?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_public_access_to_the_wilderness [wikipedia.org]
(also known as "right to wander" and "right to ramble")
Just because it doesn't exist in the USA, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Off the top of my head: beaches are the only thing, in the USA, I can think of that are always public and you can always cross private land to reach.

Maybe I'm missing something here for a reason the Google van drivers aren't getting the benefit of the doubt?

I wouldn't think that a reasonable person could consider a dirt driveway to be a public access road.
A case obviously existed, but their day in court ended because their lawyer apparently didn't know what s/he was doing.

Re:roadkill (1)

slashtivus (1162793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911815)

The state of WI has something similar with fishing. When walking a stream, anything below the 'high-water' line is considered public land, even if it passes through private land.

The vast majority of land owners are well aware of this, but you occasionally find someone that puts a barbwire fence across a stream. I never bothered to cross those since there are many other places to go and it is not worth getting shot to prove a point, but I always reported those.

The next year those would be gone. I always assumed the DNR took care of the infraction, or the new owners learned about it somehow.

Regarding the dirt roads and public access... I now live out in the OR area, and there are VAST stretches of public land in OR and WA that are full of nothing but dirt roads.

Re:roadkill (1)

laura20 (21566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911115)

You are in fact required to post when a public road changes to a private one, if you want no-trespassing laws to be enforced. So yes, you do need to 'lock your door', in this case. (I don't know if this road was visibly posted or not, I'm just noting the general case.)

this wasn't one of them, though (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910387)

I agree that mistakes in sensitive privacy situations can be damaging. But this particular plaintiff, the court found, failed to show that it was damaging in their situation, which is the requirement to sue for damages. They claimed they suffered $25,000 in emotional anguish, and the court held that they didn't provide any plausible legal arguments to support that damage claim.

If we do think, as a matter of public policy, that even harmless violations should be penalized in order to discourage them, there's a way to do that: pass a law that establishes a fine for such violations. The fine, of course, should go to the government, not the plaintiff, unless the plaintiff actually was harmed. Public policy via, you know, actual laws and law enforcement, not ambulance-chasing lawyers and "mental-anguish"-inventing plaintiffs.

Re:this wasn't one of them, though (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911261)

I wonder how this judge would feel having her home exhibited thanks to Google. Suddenly she'd be good friends with Barbra Streisand...

Re:roadkill (5, Funny)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910551)

I'll see your deer photo and raise you Pittsburgh Samurai Battle [google.com]

Re:roadkill (1)

ruadatha (1161071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911043)

now that's just damn cool.. even if not really blurred in any way shape or form

Re:roadkill (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911537)

If you move around on Street View you can see them in different poses as the camera car took different photos - when they're looking at the camera their faces are blurred. [google.com]

Re:roadkill (1)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911775)

And if you pan upwards, you can see a fleet of UFOs getting ready to attack...

Military bases? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910585)

There is a serious discussion to be had about privacy rights and Google's objective to picture, reference and catalog everything. Some inside Google take the "do no evil" to heart. Street View blurs faces and license plates.

One would expect them to worry at least as much and blur the military bases [timesonline.co.uk] of their own and friendly nations... You know, the gals and guys, who ensure that Google (and its, supposedly, privacy-minded insiders) can continue to exist...

Re:Military bases? (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911365)

You would expect the US and allied militaries to be on the ball enough to tell them to do so. Google does blur lots of military installations, but can't be expected to blur every possible base because they don't know beforehand where they are. This is a failure by the Pentagon, not by Google.

Re:roadkill (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910613)

The idea is just wrong. The very concept of local and state planning requirements puts the external view of your property as owned by the community around you, as they are the ones who must see it and their property values in turn are affected by it. This goes for commercial as well as residential and of course government properties. Anybody can see as it is on public display and anybody by extension can preserve a memory of it either upon a biological, digital or printed form.

Google certainly should be required to blank out parts of the image that show internal views, perhaps even people and vehicle registration plates but the external view of your property is something that is on show to the public. A blatant grab for money, mainly by the lawyer who of course profited by their 'advice' to their client. In Australia google was given a hard time for missing streets, this likely does relate to the greater sense of community in Australia and far stricter local and state planning controls and a much more developed idea of community ownership of the shared street scape.

Re:roadkill (0)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911335)

In Australia google was given a hard time for missing streets, this likely does relate to the greater sense of community in Australia and far stricter local and state planning controls and a much more developed idea of community ownership of the shared street scape.

Lower population density. Google had more problems in Japan where the population density is higher still. If you have a nice big back yard you won't care what goes on out the front.

Re:roadkill (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911565)

perhaps even people and vehicle registration plates but the external view of your property is something that is on show to the public

Do you blank out your plates while you're driving? That's on show to the public all the time.

All cleaned up now. (1, Offtopic)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910773)

they have since removed the image. [google.com] But if you look carefully, you can see the deer on the left before it got hit.

Re:roadkill (0)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910793)

Dear Google,

You can keep my $66.

American Judge dismisses frivolous Lawsuit ??? (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910931)

nah couldn't be must be dreaming .....

someone wake me up .

Re:roadkill (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910953)

I made an animation of the google deer driveby.

Behold: http://hikaricore.googlepages.com/pwned4.gif [googlepages.com]

Re:roadkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911493)

That goes too slow.

Re:roadkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911377)

You can just make out the deer here:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=Five+Points+Rd,+Rush,+Monroe,+New+York+14543&sll=42.990057,-77.676518&sspn=0.194878,0.354652&g=rush,+ny&ie=UTF8&cd=2&geocode=FVOZjwId4uZe-w&split=0&ll=42.953533,-77.663212&spn=0.048748,0.088663&z=14&iwloc=addr&layer=c&cbll=42.953661,-77.663251&panoid=Tt3UIYMdqLicVdLzt5AsHQ&cbp=12,180.11978880060525,,0,11.108955244995746

But it looks like they removed the after photos. "Image no longer available"

conflict resolution (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910309)

Strike one for those who believe that not every dispute should be resolved in court, and not every resolution must involve money damages.

Re:conflict resolution (2)

deek (22697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910893)

"Strike one" or "Score one"?

This is certainly a case which didn't need to go to court. Google will quite happily remove their pictures if they want. Any anguish suffered was brought on by their own actions. Barely anyone would have seen the pictures had it not been publicised by the court case.

Anyway, the Boorings will probably be slapped with a bill from their lawyer, thus teaching them a very valuable lesson.

The Borings (4, Funny)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910337)

Judge Amy Reynolds Hay from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, granted Google's request for dismissing the lawsuit because "the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under any count.""

Was that because they were too Boring?

Re:The Borings (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910369)

There's a Boring lava flow in Portland, Oregon, though I suspect it was actually quite interesting at the time. Dunno if Google has mapped it.

Gold digging (1, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910393)

I bet if I stood out on the street and took pictures of their house and posted them on my blog they wouldn't notice or care. But Google has lots of cash, so they sue them.

I worry about Google knowing too much about me, but not about them taking a picture of the outside of my house.

Re:Gold digging (2, Funny)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910455)

If you stood out on the street and took pictures of my house, I'd fear for my family's safety.

Re:Gold digging (2, Insightful)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910695)

People take pictures of buildings all the time [google.com] . If you took a picture of mine, I probably wouldn't notice... Unless you started doing it frequently. In which case, I may well take a picture of you. People are too paranoid.

Or Just Working... (4, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910765)

Most of the time when you see someone standing in the street taking pictures of your house, they are real estate appraisers shooting photos of the comparables for their report. They're usually harmless. Either that or your wife is up on the roof naked again.

Re:Or Just Working... (1)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910841)

Either that or your wife is up on the roof naked again.

I knew it would be something simple!

Re:Or Just Working... (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911215)

You must have forgotten that you were posting on Slashdot. People here don't have such a thing as a "wife".

Re:Or Just Working... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911905)

Basements don't typically have a roof, either.

Re:Gold digging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910509)

"Deep Pockets" is the phrase for which you are looking. You're welcome.

Re:Gold digging (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910543)

I bet if I stood out on the street and took pictures of their house and posted them on my blog they wouldn't notice or care. But Google has lots of cash, so they sue them.

Unles you've got a high traffic/pagerank blog, they wouldn't notice or care because very few people would see the pictures.

Google Maps is a very high traffic site and having the pictures on it is not the same as hosting them on your blog.

Re:Gold digging (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910689)

Unles you've got a high traffic/pagerank blog, they wouldn't notice or care because very few people would see the pictures.

Streisand effect FTW!

Re:Gold digging (1)

Dreadneck (982170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910705)

True, Google Maps is a very high traffic site, but how much traffic does the particular street view location in question get?

Little to none, I'd wager.

Re:Gold digging (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910995)

Thanks to the Streisand effect mentioned above, my guess would be that that section of the street is now a very high traffic view.

Sometimes you have to wonder if people think things through. My house is on Google, but no one on the internet except me and my neighbors are ever likely to see it. Anyone wanting to see it already knows the address and can catch the 912 bus from my local railway station stop by for Coffee.

Re:Gold digging (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911245)

so now all we have to do is find the public transit system with a bus 912 near a train station that is in streetview! Why, I might as well be using your credit cards right now!

Re:Gold digging (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911233)

Google is high traffic. Google Maps less so. Google maps streetview even less so. Google maps streetview, 54 nowhere street California much much less.

Re:Gold digging (-1, Troll)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910741)

Come to my private road. I'll beat your ass off of it -- so hard you'll forget the teeth you've lost.

These people want common decency and respect for privacy, and they know Google isn't offering it (since privacy is preserved post-breach via opt-out mouse clickery). Apparently a lawsuit is the only way they felt Google might start to give a shit.

You see this as predatory litigation -- I see this as one person actually standing up for the thousands that have been trespassed.

Re:Gold digging (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911013)

Jesus, calm down a little. Is physical violence your first solution to every problem? Meathead.

Maybe... (1)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911065)

...but, when you try to beat me down for walking on your drive-way, I may just bash your stupid fucking head in in self-defense! Jack-Ass!

Re:Gold digging (0, Offtopic)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911173)

And when you do that i would get you charged with assault and fucking sue you till all you have left is a pair of pants

Re:Gold digging (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910747)

I bet if I stood out on the street and took pictures of their house and posted them on my blog they wouldn't notice or care. But Google has lots of cash, so they sue them.

You must not be a photographer. You have no idea how many weird situations I've gotten into because people are paranoid freaks.

I take photos of industrial architecture and, for lack of a better word, old junk (half torn down buildings, rusted bars that form neat shapes, old tractors without wheels, things like that). I've had plenty of private citizens and rent-a-cops (though no real cops) jump down my throat because they perceive me as some sort of "threat". It's really quite amusing, as if they would actually be interesting enough for me to waste my time on... a white guy with a big black camera sure is scary! *sigh*

Re:Gold digging (0, Troll)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911133)

a white guy with a big black camera sure is scary!

They would probably get really freaked out if a big black guy with a white camera showed up!

Re:Gold digging (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911327)

They would probably get really freaked out if a big black guy with a white camera showed up!

Yeah, I'd ask him why he bought that POS limited edition white Pentax DSLR: http://nexus404.com/Blog/2008/12/17/pentax-limited-edition-k2000-white-dslr-k2000-double-zoom-slr-kit/ [nexus404.com] . I would have told him an Nikon was a much choice. ;)

Re:Gold digging (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911523)

er... rather, I would have told him that a Nikon was a much better choice. Not sure what happened with my typing there....

Re:Gold digging (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911389)

Better yet, go with your invisible camera and make a big show of taking lots of pictures. That really freaks them out.

Re:Gold digging (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911275)

Assuming you are a professional photographer with a big camera bag, that is one story. Some dude with a little spy cam trying to hide that he is taking pictures is another.

Re:Gold digging (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911413)

Yes, professional with professional quality equipment, and I never try and hide what I'm doing... I'm out there taking pictures with my big-ass camera. Which is also what makes it so weird that people want to confront me. If I was *trying* to be sneaky, I'd sit in a car and use a telephoto to snap pictures from several blocks away. I walk around with my camera in full view around my neck... it's kind of hard to hide a Nikon DSLR.

Re:Gold digging (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911585)

In a public area I wouldnt even think twice about someone like that. If you were sitting across the street from my house behind a tree I would still have a word with ya regardless of if youre trying to hide or not.

obama is pounding you in the ass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910451)

get ready for it, honky bitch. he's got that big dick up your faggot slope.

Copyright infringement? (0, Redundant)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910483)

If you drew up original house plans and had your house built to specification, could you make a copyright claim about photos of your house under U.S. Copyright law, as a "3-D work of art"?

Better yet, if you took photos of your house and made a deposit of those photos together with the blueprints, would the Library of Congress accept the copyright registration (for statutory damages)?

Just thinking this couple didn't think creatively enough here for the proper law that could be used for a suit.

Heck, patent the driveway of your home (this was about Google using a private road to get a view of their house) and get a lawsuit on Google for patent infringement for duplicating the "aesthetics" of the driveway design into Google Earth, including form and function.

Re:Copyright infringement? (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910619)


could you make a copyright claim about photos of your house under U.S. Copyright law, as a "3-D work of art"?

No. Taking a picture of your house isn't "copying" it. Taking the plans of your house and building an exact copy of it _might_ be a violation of copyright.

Just thinking this couple didn't think creatively enough here for the proper law that could be used for a suit.

No, the couple are just money grubbers looking for a payday from someone with deep pockets. Sometimes people just have no case.

Re:Copyright infringement? (4, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911063)

No. Taking a picture of your house isn't "copying" it. Taking the plans of your house and building an exact copy of it _might_ be a violation of copyright.

If only common sense reigned, this would be so. See ASMP's page on photographing public buildings [asmp.org] ; not every building is impacted, but I've seen cases where museums and the like claimed that the architecture of the building itself constitutes a work of art, and that photography of the same was forbidden.

Re:Copyright infringement? (2, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911165)

No. Taking a picture of your house isn't "copying" it. Taking the plans of your house and building an exact copy of it _might_ be a violation of copyright.

Because we signed the Berne Convention, we recognize copyright in architectural works. However, we make exceptions for photographs, etc., of buildings that are in public places.

Re:Copyright infringement? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911285)

but since taking a picture could help it be rebuilt in the same form, couldnt that be "making it accesible"? Better not get the RIAA on this...

Tresspassing no longer exists? (-1, Flamebait)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910567)

As I read it Google was trespassing on private property and took photos while on that private property. The court says it is OK for Google to keep the photos.

OK, suppose now that I just happen to wander into Google 's offices in Mountain View while a receptionist is in the bathroom and go into the building and take photos of Google's stuff.

I guess under this ruling I would get to keep my photos?

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (1)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910607)

They didn't file a criminal tresspass complaint; they sued them for civil damages. You can see why, though; presumably fines for tresspassing are relatively negligable, probably in the range of three or four digits, so it's not like they'd change Google's behavior. Of course, $25K is equally peanuts for them.

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911799)

No, the reason why is that criminal trespass fines would go to the government, whereas civil damages would go to the plaintiffs. They didn't want to set a precedent or punish google or discourage google from going it again. They wanted some cash.

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910645)

Depends on whether or not the plaintiffs clearly posted the road as private property. Otherwise it's a pretty benign mistake to accidentally drive the Google van up it.

-IANAL

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (1)

kiwijapan (1293632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910737)

It doesn't seem to matter to Google whether or not you mark the property as private property. This is not the first time the Google maps van has entered property they had no right to. They have previously ignored clearly posted "No Trespassing" signs and entered private property: Google Maps Trespassing Again [searchenginejournal.com] .

Trespassing does exist; it's just a matter of whether or not the property owner decides to enforce it or not - and Google saying that they provide opt-out functionality to removed pictures from Google Maps is no excuse for blatantly ignoring the "No Trespassing" signs in the first place. This is like saying I can get away with selling door-to-door even to households with "No Hawking" signs posted (which to be honest most door-to-door salespeople do anyway).

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910649)

A private road doesn't necessarily mean that it's private property. It just means that maintenance of the road is not the responsibility of the local city/county, etc. Of course, the road could be on private property, in which case it seems some kind of no trespassing sign or a gate would be in order.

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (0)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910687)

hahaha.. i just posted about this.

+5 for COMMON SENSE.

Those stupid camera cars need to *KNOW* what they are doing *BEFORE* they do it. Currently, they just breach privacy and allow people to opt-out of being put on public display. That is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

What's the difference between a knowing-trespasser and an unkonwing trrespasser? Simple -- only one of them knows what might be coming to them.

Privacy > Google Fanaticism.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910833)

Breaking one law doesn't make everything else you do a crime. Taking photos isn't a crime unless your truly invading someones privacy. The mistake that Google made was trespassing and nothing more. The photos are still legit unless they showed the owners sunbathing nude or having sex in the living room window. That would be a true invasion of privacy and something worth suing over.

If you could manage to get inside of Google and take pictures then yes, anything you photograph is yours to keep. What you do with said photos though is another mater. The most someone can do is ask you to leave when your on private property or call the cops. They can't take your film or camera. If they do, charge them with theft.

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910949)

IANAL, but I was under the impression that (in a lot of places, I don't know about where these people live) it's only trespass if the area is marked as some way.

For instance, let's say that you live on a corner, and you have a big lawn. It's legal for me to cut across your lawn. However, if you have a fence around it, or a sign that says 'gtfo my lawn,' then I can't.

Regardless, it's certainly legal to take a picture from public property, ie, the street. Now, if you look, where their house is [google.com] is pretty close to the street. Yeah, they're on a 'private lane,' but it's not very long. Who knows if their sign was even up or not? Of course, they'll say it was... but was it really?

If you tried to walk into Google's office and start snapping pictures, they could certainly ask you to stop. It's a pretty poor analogy.

Re:Tresspassing no longer exists? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911557)

No. This wasn't a ruling on the merits of the case, but rather a ruling on a failure to follow the rules governing court cases. Someone else could file a suit against Google, and this time not suck at it, and the case would proceed, probably without making any reference to the case discussed above.

So does this mean that... (-1, Flamebait)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26910647)

... I can, with the guise of ignorant bobbling-through life, show up on private land that Google owns --- take a lot of pictures and put them on public display for the world and then wait for google to e-mail me and remove them *if* they don't like it?

Privacy apparently isn't a big deal nowadays...

(I hope you google fanboys don't mod me down just because you like street view. Every time I post about how google, via negligent activity, wrongly trespasses on peoples land, I get modded down.)

That stupid car shows up on my private property and they'll be lucky to leave with all their blood.

Re:So does this mean that... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26910991)

Heh, look. You were right. They modded you down.

Re:So does this mean that... (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911055)

You know, your posts really paint you as an extremely violent and ill-tempered person. I'm going to wager that you are not a violent person, so you may want to try not to come off as such an internet-tough-guy.

That being said, I mostly agree with you. If something like this happened once, by accident, then removal of the pictures and a good talking-to would probably be in order. Its typically not well-advised to sue people or companies over simple accidents that can be resolved amicably. The question in my mind is whether Google is repeatedly doing this, whether on purpose or on accident, and whether appropriate information is there for Google to avoid this.

If the appropriate information isn't there, then I'm going to call no-foul on Google's part and wag my finger at the city and the property owners for not properly making public where public property ends and private property begins. One cannot reasonably hold someone accountable if they cannot tell what is private or public property.

I'm guessing, however, that the information is out there. So the question is whether this is a one-off accident, systematic negligence, or a beg-forgiveness-instead-of-ask-permission case. If its negligence, then Google needs to be fined and held accountable. If its the latter... then they need to be hit hard.

Re:So does this mean that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911117)

Why are we discussing Google as though the entire company has made the decision to trespass or not to trespass? As far as I know, the trespassing issues have come from a single google maps car, not all of them (assuming they do indeed have a fleet). Thus, it would be on the heads of the camera car's drivers to have made the decision to trespass or not. If they submit photos which don't show a "Private property" sign, how are the maps guys back at headquarters going to know what's private?

I'd have slammed the individuals driving the mapmobile first, as they're far more likely to be deterred from further trespassing by that measly 4-digit fine, and it would also alert other drivers for Google to be on the lookout, as opposed to screaming and fussing for the entire company to get down on its knees and apologize.

What is it about people that they always want to go for the top of an organization when the way to move mountains is to start at the base?

Re:So does this mean that... (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911459)

Because that's how the legal system works, and quite rightly so. If I get sick from a bad batch of cornflakes, I sue Kellogg's, not the guy who was working at the factory that day, even if it was his sneezing in the flakerator that made me sick. I happen to think that's good public policy: it will encourage Kellogg's to make sure its operations prevent this kind of thing from happening again. If the only person I could sue were the employee, there would be no incentive for Kellogg's to clean up their act and they would dump all the blame on the "bad apple." That's an upside of treating corporations as persons under the law (there are downsides as well, of course).

Re:So does this mean that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26911765)

The legal system allows us to sue corporations, yes. The issue I have is that the corporation wasn't the one who told this guy to ignore Private Property signs, at least as far as we know. They seem to be denying that pretty strongly, and my guess is that no one really knew what had gone on except the drivers, until long after the pictures were taken.

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure the law would just as well allow you to sue the driver of the vehicle that trespassed as the company he was working for. The difference is in scale - as other posters have said, either way, the cost of one lawsuit isn't going to be monetary incentive to do anything. The media coverage might be, but you don't necessarily need to sue someone to make the news.

If Google or Kellogg's wants to blame the mistake on one "bad apple", let them. It could be the truth. If it's not the truth, it'll happen again and then you have two incidents to base a bigger lawsuit on.

You can not force people to follow company policy; no matter how many lawsuits you throw at Kellogg's there will always be one factory worker who decides he doesn't need his mask and sneezes in your corn flakes. All of us who have worked under someone know that there are plenty of opportunities to cut corners and break rules. Holding the corporation responsible for some assembly worker's bad idea is just one more way of relieving us of our own responsibility for actions on the job - actions which are supposed to uphold the company's reputation.

It's entirely possible the guy's gonna get fired, since I'm sure they know exactly who it was driving the van that day. That is as it should be. Doesn't mean you have to sue the company over it, if they've removed the source of the problem already.

Re:So does this mean that... (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911737)

That stupid car shows up on my private property and they'll be lucky to leave with all their blood.

I've heard that in several european countries, Scotland for one, there is no law against walking onto someone else's land, provided you don't damage it. It seems a bit more complicated and debatable than that, but it seems clear that you can hike through someone's farmland and they have no legal right to shoot you. Not the case obviously in the US. What's with our trespassing obsession? I step foot on your land, you'll injure me just because you can? Is it that we think everyone is out to get us?

Google blured VP Cheney's house, why not this one? (1)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911539)

Google blurred the satellite photo of the US Naval observatory in DC, a public building, in order to protect VP Cheney.

If Google is willing to protect the privacy of a public figure than it ought to be even more protective of the privacy of a private homeowner by burring a photo taken while being a non-invited intruder on that homeowner's own property.

calculated risk (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911697)

Google blurred the satellite photo of the US Naval observatory in DC, a public building, in order to protect VP Cheney.

If Google is willing to protect the privacy of a man who can shoot you in the face with impunity

FTFY

Re:Google blured VP Cheney's house, why not this o (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26911773)

Which is exactly what they did, you just need to ask as I'm sure the whitehouse/pentagon/navy/ did.

http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/faq.html#q6 [google.com]

But seriously taking a still picture from a public place without even using a telephoto lens seems a bit of a stretch to label "intruder".

My vacation snap shots have numerous people I don't know in them, and numerous houses in the background too. The photos of my kid playing in the yard has the neighbors house in it too. Are you seriously suggesting I should thus not let anyone see them?

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