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Censorship Google Your Rights Online

German Photog Wants to Shoot Buildings Excluded From Street View 327

crf00 writes with this report excerpted from Blogoscoped: "'Spiegel reports that German photographer and IT consultant Jens Best wants to personally take snapshots of all those (German) buildings which people asked Google Street View to remove. He then wants to add those photos to Picasa, including GPS coordinates, and in turn re-connect them with Google Maps. Jens believes that for the internet 'we must apply the same rules as we do in the real world. Our right to take panoramic snapshots, for instance, or to take photographs in public spaces, both base laws which determine that one may photograph those things that are visible from public streets and places.' Jens says that for his belief in the right of photographing in public places, as last resort he's even willing to go to jail. Spiegel says Jens already found over 200 people who want to help out in this project and look for removed locations in Google Street View, as there's no official list of such places published by Google."
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German Photog Wants to Shoot Buildings Excluded From Street View

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  • English version (Score:4, Informative)

    by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @10:50PM (#33310042)
    For those of us who don't read German fluently click here []
  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:15PM (#33310188) Homepage

    I can remember getting off the train at the Pentagon. I wanted to go upriver on foot to photograph the skyline of DC at night from across the river (don't ask me why -- ugly city). It didn't take too minutes before a Hummer came rolling out and a guy in a gun turret (gun pointed at me) told me to go away and not take any photos.

    Like it or not, some really stupid rules -- and even just really stupid etiquette -- governs what you can and cannot photograph.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:13AM (#33310700) Homepage Journal

    You can still take pictures of everything in public view, and so can Google.

    You're not up to speed. There is currently a public debate about whether or not there should be a law prohibiting Google from doing so. Several members of the government are involved in the debate, so it's not just hot air. The vice prime minister has come out on the "against pictures" side, though I don't recall if he's supporting an explicit law or not, as he's a libertarian and that would be strange, but then again in the realm of politics truth is stranger than fiction.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:02AM (#33310894) Homepage
    Well you know, if you followed a bit the launch of Street View in Germany, Google is not just "being nice" - it was forced by the governement to adopt this policy before launching its Street View service in this country, because of privacy concerns. More than 200 000 of such requests have already been sent. I'm not German, so I can't evaluate if these requests have a strong legal basis or not. But it seems clear that both the government and and a large part of the public opinion in Germany seem against unrestricted Street View, and as another slashdotter pointed out, the law can always be changed to be explicitly more restrictive if needed.
  • Re:Erm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:31AM (#33311002) Homepage Journal

    This is exactly my thought. As far as I know, nobody is saying you CAN'T post photos of these homes.

    No, not yet. However, the government is deliberating passing a law that does. This protest is presumably part of the current public debate, a protest against making even more laws regulating what you can and can not do in public.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by beerbear ( 1289124 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:06AM (#33311604)
    We're talking about German privacy laws here.
    I don't know if they're different in regard to public privacy, it's just that American law does not serve as a precedent at all.
  • Re:Erm... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:11AM (#33311628)

    The summary doesn't give the context. Our a**holes of politicians in Germany currently try to divert public attention from various public databases they're trying to build, by pointing fingers at Google and Facebook. So they and the media (who have their own gripes with google, Google News and all) create a shitstorm out of nothing.

    So now, claims are floating around that infer:
    That on Google Streetview you can watch any place at any time, "live" - Instead that it's 2 year old snapshtos
    That you have exactly 4 weeks (while much of the country is on vacation no less!) to get your house delisted, and afterwards, you're in for eternity. Instead that those 4 - and now 8 - weeks are the timespan in which Google ensures that the house is not visible from the start)
    That their photographing from way too high (2.5 metres, oh the horror!). Just try how useful street level photography from the middle of the street would be.
    That Google is doing something illegal (instead, panoramic images are explicitely allowed, think of what the media would have to do otherwise. The only limitation is the rights of identifyable persons - and Google takes care of that)

    So with all this campaigning (ironically, those who have issues with street view generally have no issue with whatever snooping the gov't does on us), photographers have a real risk of losing the panorama exemption - this would make outdoor photography quite troublesome from a legal point.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:13AM (#33311636) Journal

    How do you say "The Streisand Effect" in German?

    Der Streisand-Effekt.

  • Re:Google (Score:3, Informative)

    by azmodean+1 ( 1328653 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:53AM (#33313144)

    When I am on the street, I did not trow away any rights. I still should be expected to have certain privacy. e.g. NOT have pictures of me place online.

    Actually you do. When you are in public, you give up some of your privacy rights. If you have a picture of you taken in a public place that will embarrass or harm you in some way, you have no legal recourse to avoid having that picture published as far as I know.

    Repeat after me, "I have no expectation of privacy when in a public place.". It is an extremely simple principle, and I don't understand why people think that it doesn't apply to them.

    There are laws against posting defamatory information of most kinds, but if it is a legitimate picture then there is no recourse.

    And just because something is legal does not make it right to do so.

    I feel the same way, like about people telling photographers that it is illegal for them to take pictures in public. It isn't illegal for private citizens to claim rights that they don't actually have as far as I know, but it isn't right to do so.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by hholzgra ( 6914 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:40AM (#33313740) Homepage

    > (do I have a right to stop someone making public a photo of my home on the Internet?)

    by German law:

    * If it is not visible from public ground (street, sidewalk) then you have
    * if some temporary copyrightable installation (e.g. a piece of art, a banner) is part of the picture then you have
    * if the picture does not only show your home but also yourself you may have (unless you are just part of a crowd)
    * if none of the above applies then the right to take pictures of things visible from public ground ("Panoramafreiheit") kicks in

    What is still being debated though is whether making such photos public in the form Google Streetview does, with fully geo referenced lookup capabilities, is still covered by "Panoramafreiheit" or not.

    So you may have a right to stop Google from publishing the pictures of your house on StreetView,
    but you would have no right to stop anyone from publishing pictures (even with GPS location information)
    who doesn't do this in a large scale systematic way in Germany.

    The background of the "Panoramafreiheit" law is simple: without it you could hardly publish *any* picture taken on a public street as avoiding to show any houses on these would be next to impossible in most cases. So it was decided that your copyright on the look of your house is a less important right than the freedom to take and publish photographs, whereas your personal privacy takes precedence as soon as you yourself are part of the photo (again: unless you're just part of a crowed, or can't be recognized...)

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