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Windows Live and Privacy 372

Posted by kdawson
from the filming-now-in-a-city-near-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today as we were biking around our neighborhood in a small city we saw a strange vehicle slowly driving around. It appeared to be an SUV, bristling with cameras mounted on the roof, and pointing just about every possible direction. The first time we saw it, all we could see was that it had a sign on the side, something about Windows. The second time we saw it, we stared at it so hard that the driver stopped and we had a chance to ask him what it was all about. He said he was driving around, filming streets, and that there were people doing this all over the world, and getting data from the air too. It was going to be available on the Web. I asked him if this was Microsoft's answer to Google Earth, and he indicated that it was. There seems to be very little about this on the Web, and I found no mention of Microsoft's collection of this sort of detailed street level data. The Windows site appears to be http://preview.local.live.com/, although since I use a Mac it didn't work properly. I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could."
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Windows Live and Privacy

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  • Re:lovely (Score:3, Informative)

    by SeanMon (929653) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:02PM (#17093250) Homepage Journal
    If a structure is visible from a public way, it is legal to photograph it and publish it; it is not a copyright violation. Exceptions are made, of course, for certain government areas, most notably Area 51.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:05PM (#17093284)
    And it was closed down after about a year.

    http://news.com.com/Amazon+A9+takes+it+to+the+stre ets/2100-1032_3-5833916.html [com.com]

    http://maps.a9.com/ [a9.com]

    So it's not 'new'. I think part of the problem is that A9 didn't have their own maps feed.
  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dknj (441802) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:12PM (#17093346) Journal
    a9 maps used to do this. Interestingly enough, a9 maps no longer exists [a9.com]. Though now they appear to be in bed with Live
  • by grand_it (949276) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:16PM (#17093392)
    I'm surprised it hasn't been done already

    It _has_ been done already, and dismissed. Check out this story [com.com] about an ideantical Amazon's A9 Maps [a9.com] feature.

  • by crush (19364) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:18PM (#17093406)
    This [outer-court.com] is what it used to look like. It was pretty awesome.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:22PM (#17093444) Journal
    The Windows site appears to be http://preview.local.live.com/ [live.com], although since I use a Mac it didn't work properly. I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could

    Well, it works in Firefox, so chances are it works on a Mac after all, just not on Safari, if that was the one you had problems with.
    And yes, the people captured seem to actually be left in.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:43PM (#17093628)
    A3 (Amazon's search engine) has had street level photographs for a couple of years now. It is possible to enter an address by zip code and then see the picture of that address as it looks from the side of moving vehicle. It's interesting and useful that MS might also do it, but it isn't new or original.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:51PM (#17093714) Homepage Journal
    You are correct in that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, however, a company attempting to profit from your likeness without your release (public figures and journalist/photographers aside) you could be incurring a liability. Where in this case your being in the picture is purely incidental and not the prime motivation of profit (the geography is the primary intent) is something that would be better debated by a lawyer in a court of law (of course), or better yet, the legislature.
  • by blowdart (31458) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:53PM (#17093736) Homepage

    Model releases are different, as the model is the main focus of the photo. In the US and the UK members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. This is the key different, model releases come into play for studio shots. Basically, in public, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes. See ThePhotographersRight.pdf [krages.com] for more details of the US situation; photoattorney.com [photoattorney.com] has more of the same. You can find an overview of Australian law here [4020.net]

    Finally the NYTimes covered a case [nytimes.com] where the subject of a photo in public sued because the photographer use it in an exhibit and was making money. The suit sought an injunction to halt sales and publication of the photograph, as well as $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages and was brought under the NY privacy laws. It failed because the photo was consider art.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @06:54PM (#17093742)
    When you're outside... people can see you.


    Yes, but except for certain special cases like news reporting on events of public interest, they can't take pictures in which you are recognizable and use them for commercial purposes without your express consent. Legal rights to "privacy" don't only apply to rights to prevent people from seeing you in the first instance.
  • by mr_matticus (928346) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @07:19PM (#17093902)
    The exceptions are bigger than you think. You're probably already photographed on the Internet on someone's birthday Flikr album from a restaurant, or maybe you're one of thousands of people filmed on open street scenes for motion pictures. They can use material which includes your likeness for any purpose, including commercial ones, so long as your likeness isn't part of that purpose.

    If I'm filming a tree lighting ceremony for the holidays and your face drifts into the frame, too bad for you. That video is still going in the film, because I have no idea who you are and your inclusion isn't even tangentially related to what I'm doing. Privacy laws only protect exploitation, not inclusion. In public, people and cameras can see you. If you don't like it, don't go out. Ever been on the big screen at a baseball game? Try complaining about that.
  • by Cow Jones (615566) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @07:33PM (#17093998)
    There is even a commercial package called Tourist Remover [snapmania.com] which uses multiple images of the same location to compose a result without artifacts from moving objects.
  • by twitter (104583) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @07:35PM (#17094016) Homepage Journal

    The French Yellow Pages [pagesjaunes.fr] has had street level photos for at least eight years. Some people, it seems, make their tax dollars work.

    As for M$ doing anything useful, I'll believe it when I can see it with free software. Until then, I'll just imagine they bought someone out and made their stuff crappier, like Hotmail. Is there anything that M$ borgification has improved rather than extinguished?

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @07:43PM (#17094070)
    Are people really this out of touch with news?

    Microsoft started taking street and air shapshots of cities over a year ago, it was part of their demonstration even over a year ago.

    And now this Mac user is surprised? WTF. This isn't an 'answer' to Google BTW, MS was working on this technology before Google was even a glimmer in the eye of the geeks that created it. Go look up terra server, and when MS first put this up as a demonstration of how MS-SQL could easily handle terrabytes of data.

    As for the street and air level snapshots, these TOO are ALREADY in use. Microsoft 3D earth uses the 'textures' of the buildings in the 3D models they have of several major cities already.

    Additionally, the 'angle' view was introduced on MS Virtual Earth over a year ago, with multi-angle views of cities from airplane shots that complimented the satelitte images.

    Is everyone this out of touch with technology and news, and if so, are the editors of Slashdot becoming out of date old timers as well? No wonder people are shocked to find out that Windows doesn't run on a DOS architecture nor crash every 5 mins if this is their idea of breaking news.

    Talk about slow news day... OMFG.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @08:09PM (#17094278)
    Maybe Austria's laws are different but as a long time pro and semi pro photographer working across Australia, New Zealand and Japan I don't have to get consent unless I'm selling that photo containing your for the express purpose of selling your image for commercial gain.
    If I took images of people riding a ferris wheel at a fair and _sold_ them to a news paper for for gain for them to include in a news article about that fair then I would not need to get consent from the people riding the ferris wheel.
    If I included that image in my portfolio for personal promotion of my business (but did not sell that image) I would not have to get consent so long as it is not displayed to the general public ie I could, within my private business address show it to interested customers as an example of my skills as I'm not seeking to profit from YOUR image rather it's just a generic image demonstrating the ability of being able to take a successful shot under those generic conditions)
    If I included a image that had your likeness but that likeness was incidental to the main focus of the image (the fair) I could publish that in a book that was to be sold for commercial gain.
    If I took a photo of you and exhibited it in a gallery as a work of art I could do that without your consent. I can also sell that image for commercial gain, you could take legal action (as is some times done by celebrities) but if the court decides the primary purpose of the image is as an artistic work rather than specifically an image of that specific person then I could continue to sell that image for commercial gain.
    BUT.... BUT if I took a portraiture image of you as the subject (non incidental) of the image and published that in a book for commercial gain and the book was not of "historical" or "newsworthy" content nor deemed to be primarily published for its "artistic" merit I would be required to get a signed consent form.
  • by daff2k (689551) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @08:25PM (#17094386)
    I can't speak to other country's laws, but aparently YOU can't speak to the US's.

    Right; I assumed most western countries had compatible copyright laws when it comes to individuals (not speaking about copy protection, DRM and other such things). I can, of course, only speak for my country (Austria).

    Are they recognizable by most people: if not, then you're pretty much in the clear

    That's right, that's the basis for all of it. As long as you can't be clearly identified it's not "your picture" and your cannot claim the right to your own picture. Meaning as soon as you can be identified it is a picture of you, to which only you have the copyright.

    2. Are they a focal point of the photograph, or just incidental? If they're just incidental, you're pretty much in the clear (e.g. if you take a picture of a beach, some random dude who happens to be in the photograph usually can't do anything)

    I don't think that's true. If that dude can be clearly identified he has the right to that picture and you are not allowed to do anything with it without his consent.

    3. Even if you don't pass the first two points, there's still a fairly wide variety of things that you can do with photos. For instance, if they are being used for news purposes, you can't do anything. If they're being used in an art exhibit, you probably can't do anything.

    Someone putting your picture in an exhibition without you having agreed to that is clearly unlawful. It's the same with news reports. Anecdotal evidence, backed up by the code of law: Just this summer my girlfriend had a photo exhibition and they needed the written permission from every person photographed to be able to use their picture.

    Our law is pretty clear on those matters, the only exception made is when your picture is needed for administrative, court procedures and the like.

    Can't really believe it to be much different in the US. But I may be wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @09:04PM (#17094598)
    This is not "informative"... It's misguided.

    The exceptions are bigger than you think. You're probably already photographed on the Internet on someone's birthday Flikr album from a restaurant, or maybe you're one of thousands of people filmed on open street scenes for motion pictures. They can use material which includes your likeness for any purpose, including commercial ones, so long as your likeness isn't part of that purpose.


    You are correct in every manner but "commercial use." If your likeness is discernable and the photograph is used for, say, a magazine advertisement and you did not give permission you may well have a case. This is more so the more prominently you are featured, or if the photograph is used to portray you in a negative light, or for myriad other reasons. It's not cut and dry that if you happen to be in the background of a photo shoot they are free to do what they wish with your likeness.

    Note that journalism is generally exempt from these rules, but not always, and the laws of "fair use" are based more on common sense and crossed fingers. The local news can get away with a lot that a documentary series or even 60 minutes could not.

    If I'm filming a tree lighting ceremony for the holidays and your face drifts into the frame, too bad for you. That video is still going in the film, because I have no idea who you are and your inclusion isn't even tangentially related to what I'm doing. Privacy laws only protect exploitation, not inclusion. In public, people and cameras can see you. If you don't like it, don't go out. Ever been on the big screen at a baseball game? Try complaining about that.

    You are missing a very important point with the ball game example... You are not in public. You are at an event, you bought tickets, and the fine print will say that you agree that if you are filmed your likeness can be used. There is also most likely a sign to that effect on the wall by the entrance. It's not that different from a EULA really, you are giving your consent whether you like it or not and your only recourse is not to attend.

    As far as the tree lighting goes... What are you doing with the tape? Selling it to the Kathy Lee Christmas special? In that case if someone's face is featured prominently, and there is no signage that the event is being filmed, you'd better cut them out or at least blur the face if they didn't give permission. More so if they speak. Or better yet, secure a location release in advance and handle it like a professional. Is it going to the local news? You're probably all right, though if you are shooting with a home camera and the footage ends up on the news they may have a right to be angry-- after all a news crew is obvious and can be avoided if one wishes, not so much with a guy with a Canon ZR-50. Are you filming to show your family and friends you were there? In that case you are right, no one gives a damn, though common sense dictates that when you stick a camera in a stranger's face you do so at your own risk (you may not get sued, but you may get punched.)

    I am not a lawyer. I have been an associate producer on several documentaries and (shudder) reality series. Part of my job was securing releases. It was an absolute nightmare. The rules are nebulous at best . There are expensive "oversight" insurance policies taken by almost every such production to cover exactly what we are discussing here.
  • Re:Agreement? (Score:3, Informative)

    by budgenator (254554) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @09:19PM (#17094716) Journal
    Interestingly the site worked well in firefox 2.0 on Linux
  • by bigjarom (950328) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:03PM (#17095008) Journal

    If you're on public property you can take whatever pictures you want
    This is correct. I worked as a private investigator a few years ago and the rule about surveillance was that you could film people regardless of where they were as long as you were on public property. For example, if they are inside their house you can film them or take pictures through their window, as long as they are visible from the street.

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