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Google Privacy The Almighty Buck The Courts Technology

Google Loses Street View Suit, Forced To Pay $1 225

Translation Error writes "Two and a half years ago, the Borings sued Google for invading their privacy by driving onto their private driveway and taking pictures of their house to display on Google Street View. Now, the case has finally come to a close with the judge ruling in favor of the Borings and awarding them the princely sum of $1. While the judge found the Borings to be in the right, she awarded them only nominal damages, as the fact that they had already made images of their home available on a real estate site and didn't bother to seal the lawsuit to minimize publicity indicated the Borings neither valued their privacy nor had it been affected in any great way by Google's actions."
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Google Loses Street View Suit, Forced To Pay $1

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  • Precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @07:48PM (#34425304) Journal

    But since American law operates as much upon precedent as statute, this has significance.

    Google (and others) now know it's not okay to come on to private property for photogathering without permission, and can't play dumb next time. Google wasn't trespassing "innocently" or "by mistake"; they were engaged in commercial activity and did what they did intentionally. The judge in the decision also laid out the circumstances under which the trespass would have higher costs. If Google does this to someone who DOES value their privacy, the cost would be higher, and if Google is caught doing this repeatedly then they are sooner or later going to run into a "You don't learn, do ya, boy?" judge. Remember also that trespassing is a criminal charge, and in many places the property owner could call the police or even make a citizen's arrest on the van with the funny thing on top.

    I'd be interested in seeing how Google would react if someone drove into their parking lot, hauled out a camera and started photographing their campus, their employees and their employees' cars, then claimed they weren't doing anything that Google wasn't themselves doing. I'm going to guess the answer would involve the Mountain View police and potentially DHS, (given that it's a high-value economic target to anti-capitalists).

  • Re:Precedent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @07:57PM (#34425412)

    But since American law operates as much upon precedent as statute, this has significance.

    In the American system, a trial court decision has very little precedential weight (it is not binding precedent on the application of the law on any court in any future case, including even the same court, and may not even be allowed by court rules in many courts to be cited in other cases.)

  • Good Judgement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @08:01PM (#34425444) Journal
    Even though the details are pretty brief, it sounds like a good ruling.

    I think far too many people think that just because somebody wrongs you, you should be entitled to millions of dollars when you sue them even though what they did isn't all that damaging. Considering they could prove no ill effect to the Google car coming on to their property, they had no right to the $25,000 they claimed.

    I could see this as being an issue if one of the members of the house was in the witness protection program and had to be relocated because of the image or something similar to that, but there was no real damage here. Highly publicized rulings like this really help in the fight against frivolous lawsuits by putting those types of people back in check. Courts aren't designed to make someone unfairly rich, they're designed to recoup actual damages and that's it.
  • Re:Ah, Trespassing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 2010 @08:33PM (#34425792)

    What's frustrating is the stupidity of the judge

    and your stupidity and strawman arguments

    What people need to understand is that the following is not equal in terms of relative power and ability to expose information:

    A) A family across the street taking a vacation photo with distant relatives that includes your house in the background.
    B) A real estate agent exposing pictures, for the purpose of a sale, on a website that might never be seen and the pictures would be removed once the house was sold.
    C) Fucking Google who will provide an insanely well branded and understood portal to anyone seeking that information with a level of ease that would be considered indistinguishable from magic 500 years ago.

    You're kidding right? the real estate site will get more people seeing there house than google unless/until you make a big deal of this suit and make everyone go look at it!!!

    the pictures on google didn;t hurt anyone at all - if they had just simply request the removal google would have complied. instead they tried to get rich quick and it backfired.

  • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Thursday December 02, 2010 @08:50PM (#34426008)

    I disagree in cases like these.

    Essentially what the judge has said here is that the Borings were technically correct, but the lawsuit was a complete waste of everyone's time.

    In that case, I'd be more inclined to say the Borings should pay for Google's expenses, but that's obviously unfair given the cost of Google's legal team. So each paying for their own is a-ok with me.

(null cookie; hope that's ok)