Judge dismisses Google Street View case

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a US family against Google after the company took and posted images of the outside of their house in its Maps service.

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.

On Tuesday, 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."

Aaron and Christine Boring sought compensatory and punitive damages as they alleged, among other things, that Google had invaded their privacy, acted negligently, was unjustly enriched, and trespassed upon their Pittsburgh property, which includes a private road leading to their house.

The Borings also requested that the images in question be removed from the Maps service, and Google complied. In its ruling, Judge Reynolds Hay also declined the Borings' request for a permanent injunction preventing Google from showing their property's photos in Maps. "The Plaintiffs have failed to plead -- much less set out facts supporting -- a plausible claim of entitlement to injunctive relief," the judge wrote.

A Google spokeswoman said the company is pleased with the outcome because it feels the suit was without merit. "Google respects individual privacy. We blur identifiable faces and license plates in Street View and we offer easy-to-use removal tools so users can decide for themselves whether or not they want a given image to appear in Street View. It is unfortunate the parties involved decided to pursue litigation instead of making use of these tools," she said via e-mail.

The Street View images are taken from Google cars equipped with cameras. The photos offer a 360-degree street-level view of some roads and are meant to complement the other Maps views, like satellite, terrain and standard graphics.

Eric Goldman, associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of its High Tech Law Institute, said the judge's decision was the right one.

"I wasn't impressed with the lawsuit to begin with. Mercifully, the judge was able to kick out the lawsuit before it consumed too much of everyone's time," Goldman said.

Assuming Google's driver made a mistake by entering this private road and taking the photos, the plaintiffs had a number of options to address the situation that didn't involve filing a lawsuit, which was "overkill," he said. "Going to court was a completely disproportionate response to the problem," Goldman said.

The plaintiffs' attorney didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tags Googlegooge mapslegal

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service

6 Comments

Anonymous

1

That's great!

I'm happy with the results, as this is a great example of the system working against those who misuse it.

Anonymous

2

Hah!

In your face, litigious addlepates!

Anonymous

3

private road

sure they might not have a court case, since relief was provided when google removed the pohots, but that doesn't make google's trespass and privacy invasion any less upsetting or wrong. they should have sued for harrasment or filed a criminal charge of trespass. that would have had a much better chance.

Anonymous

4

someone driving down a road is not harrassment and trespassing. It's a mistake. If you pull into somebody's driveway to turn around should you be sued for harrassment.

Anonymous

5

Trespassers

Did they have a sign up saying "PRIVATE ROAD. NO TRESPASSING" - preferably something that wasn't hidden in the bushes, or had fallen over? If it was clearly marked and delineated, then Google should have stayed the hell away as they'd been given fair warning.

The family shouldn't have had to go to Google to use a tool and waste their time - Google shouldn't have been there in the first place. Since Google f'd up, they should have promptly removed the image and given those people $1,000 along with a release to make it all go away quietly.

But someone, somewhere did something to get someone else's panties in a bunch, and that triggered a lawsuit.... These people just had a bafoon for an Attorney or this case could have gone much differently.

If the case was dismissed without prejudice, I'd refile it and make the privacy invasion/trespassing claim.

Just as an aside - the Google driver is lucky he's alive after going down a Private Road. Some parts of the country tend to take the "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be riddled..." approach....

If it's not yours - stay the hell out.

Anonymous

6

Both Sides are Equally Wrong

As someone noted they should have put in the complaint about trespassing and left out the $ angle. This makes them look like greedy people. There are other ways to do it as well.

Comments are now closed.

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