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Google Loses Street View Suit, Forced To Pay $1

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the token-victory dept.

Google 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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A $! verdict? (1, Redundant)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425190)

How Boring...

Re:A $! verdict? (5, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425234)

I hope they enjoy their $1.
If I were in charge at Google, I would go in person to deliver then an enormous $1 cheque.

Re:A $! verdict? (5, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425264)

And pull up in a Google Street View van?

Re:A $! verdict? (3, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425400)

Notify all local media outlets.
And bring my own camera crew so I could post the whole think on youtube.

Re:A $! verdict? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426202)

I hope they enjoy their $1. If I were in charge at Google, I would go in person to deliver then an enormous $1 cheque.

Why a cheque? That would give them something to talk about.

I would rather hand them a sack of 100 pennies :)

Re:A $! verdict? (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426570)

I would rather hand them a sack of 100 pennies :)

Always some motherfucker who wants to ice skate uphill.

Re:A $! verdict? (1)

dieth (951868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426646)

Where I'm from we used to beat the Boring people with the sack of pennies.

Re:A $! verdict? (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426564)

Why? I would have pulled the change out of my pocket and paid them then and their.

I'll get this out of the way (4, Funny)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425588)

It was a Boring picture anyway.

Why are the Slashdot editors posting Boring stories on the front page?

What's so Boring about privacy?

"Everybody called me Mr. Boring, but now I'm famous!"

This is a more Boring version of the Streisand Effect.

Google is Boring its way into our privacy. (Didn't see that one coming, didya?)

Making up these bad wordplays is Boring the hell out of me. ...are we done?

Re:I'll get this out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425688)

you forgot the oblig.

Homer Simpson: Boooooring...

Re:I'll get this out of the way (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426318)

Quit boring everyone [youtube.com]

Re:I'll get this out of the way (1)

CarlosM7 (642308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426576)

I think you can also quote Dr. House on that

Great (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425196)

Who paid the legal fees?

Re:Great (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425228)

Each party bears its own costs. Google can afford it, though, I think. Don't know about the couple, but considering they originally sued for $25,000 (I imagine they were trying to get a quick cash settlement out of it), I'm thinking they probably wouldn't bear the burden quite so well.

Re:Great (5, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425232)

Since the judge found for the plaintiff, you would have to assume each paid their own. If the Boring's lawyer worked on a contingency, that would land him around $0.33 cold hard cash, to spend as he would like.

Re:Great (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425876)

Loser should always pay..

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425930)

If I was the judge, I would have awarded them the dollar, then charged them with all the legal fees for wasting the court's time on something so meaningless and trivial.

Re:Great (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426120)

If I was the judge, I would have awarded them the dollar, then charged them with all the legal fees for wasting the court's time on something so meaningless and trivial.

I'm not convinced this is meaningless or trivial. Trespass onto a private property in order to take unapproved photos of your home to plaster them all over the internet is well over that "creepy" line that Google supposedly doesn't want to cross. Let's use the extreme bad analogy: various actresses have appeared in movies in a state of undress; so would the same judge also decide it "does no harm" if Google sent staff to sneak onto their properties, photo them through their bathroom windows, and publish naked pictures of them on the Web then -- as they've shown they "don't value their privacy"?

Re:Great (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426246)

Yes that is a bad extreme example. The same as if you claimed the same harm to you if I shone a flashlight on you or shot you with a high powered laser.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Great (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426226)

This is one of the rare cases that I agree that loser pays is unfair

Re:Great (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426726)

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.

One thing that isn't reported is that couple filed the original lawsuit before they asked Google to remove their home from Google's data. Also the Borings have won the latest round after they refiled since the original suit was dismissed on failing to state a claim. Judges tend not to like it when your first action is to sue another party rather than quietly working it out. Also they don't like it when they tell you that you don't have a case and you keep refiling trying to get around it.

Re:Great (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426214)

Who paid the legal fees?

The Plaintiff, Google, and the American Taxpayer.

The last of the 3 paid by far the most.

Installment payments? (3, Funny)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425208)

Will Google be allowed to make installment payments on that?

Re:Installment payments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425826)

I paid off my AT&T final bill after booting them out of my life. The sum of 0.17 cents. They did not process it! FTW

Re:Installment payments? (1)

baegucb (18706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426796)

That would force the Borings to use JG Wentworth!

$1 award? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425250)

That's pretty much the judicial equivalent of saying "STFU!", isn't it?

Re:$1 award? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425286)

Nope, that would be $0.01

Re:$1 award? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425898)

Really? I was pretty sure the legal Peppercorn in the USA was the sum of 1.00 USD for damages.

Re:$1 award? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426060)

Nah, that's just a nice round number, and makes the point sufficiently. The peppercorn's relative value hasn't changed in the last two hundred years, it's still practically worthless, but not actually worthless, which is the point the peppercorn principle makes.

The peppercorn principle says that even $0.01 is a fair sum if the circumstances warrant it (i.e. you can make a contract for one cent in payment if you want and it is legally binding).

Re:$1 award? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425288)

It's sort of like when you were a kid and hit your sibling for being an asshole, and Mom said "I was going to punish him, but you already did"--if that makes any sense.

Re:$1 award? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425978)

what's the judicial equivalent of "uncle jack" making you suck his cock while he sticks a finger up your asshole?

Re:$1 award? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426070)

getting sued by microsoft...

Re:$1 award? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426074)

Texas

Re:$1 award? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425432)

He ruled in their favor.

She (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425450)

Er, she.

Precedent (5, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425304)

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 (3, Interesting)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425366)

"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"

What? you mean like this...
http://chrisonstad.blogspot.com/2007/02/my-trip-to-google-with-photos.html [blogspot.com]

More: http://www.bing.com/search?q=my+photos+of+google+campus [bing.com]

Re:Precedent (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426402)

I love Onstad and I wish he would update his comic.

Re:Precedent (5, Interesting)

macshit (157376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426562)

"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"

What? you mean like this... http://chrisonstad.blogspot.com/2007/02/my-trip-to-google-with-photos.html [blogspot.com]

More: http://www.bing.com/search?q=my+photos+of+google+campus [bing.com]

haha! you used bing!

Actually, I'm curious: why did you use bing? Plugging your bing search into google yields much better results -- the google search actually turns up mostly photos of google campuses (with your first link as the first hit!), whereas the bing results seem to all be just photos of various college campuses that happen to be hosted on google sites....

Re:Precedent (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.)

Re:Precedent (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426286)

In the American system, a trial court decision has very little precedential weight

It could have more precedential weight, once Google appeals this case to a higher court.

Re:Precedent (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425480)

$1 is a common award for trespassing where the only "injury" is to the dignity of the property right. This case isn't significant precedent; it's following precedent. It's also not putting Google on notice or going to change anyone's behavior as everybody knows not to trespass, yet everybody does it some of the time. Ever turn around in a neighborhood by driving into some random person's driveway? Trespass! Just keep $1 around in case you ever get sued, because you will doubtless lose and be forced to cough up $1.

Re:Precedent (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426676)

I never stick the nose of my car in past the inner edge of the sidewalk. That's a public easement.

Re:Precedent (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425610)

Google wasn't trespassing "innocently" or "by mistake"; they were engaged in commercial activity and did what they did intentionally.

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).

Actually, a few quick corrections - While Google intended to take photographs, there is no proof they intended to trespass which is the aim of this particular lawsuit. There is also no proof that Google intended to extort or otherwise maliciously use the photographs they've gained.

Judging by the tone of your final statement, your envisioned use of the Google pics may not be so innocent. While I agree you have just as much right to be on the Boring's private property as you do Google's, both entities have just as much right to sue you for trespassing and damages caused by your actions.

Re:Precedent (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425644)

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

There's no precedent set by this decision. It's in a district court and it's a consent decree.

Re:Precedent (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425754)

Google wasn't trespassing "innocently" or "by mistake"; they were engaged in commercial activity and did what they did intentionally.

If I remember right, there wasn't much of anything to indicate that the road was private. And while Google was intentionally engaging in commercial activity, there would be little indication that they were trespassing to do it.

Re:Precedent (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425926)

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

The precedential value of trial court decisions is de minimis.

Re:Precedent (2)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426112)

I think that was the point.

In the case of the Borings, the lawsuit is borderline frivolous (because they obviously don't actually care about their privacy, so no harm was done). However, in many cases it is a big deal, and people really can suffer damages from these kinds of invasions of privacy.

As such, it's important to slap the Borings' hands for bringing a frivolous lawsuit, while producing case-law that says Google's behavior is not acceptable.

A $1 victory for the Borings accomplishes this. It essentially says "What they did was wrong, but you're not going to get a big payday unless they caused damages warranting it."

Google should be thankful the RIAA wasn't invovled (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425306)

Undoubtedly the serious revenue damages would have exceeded five hundred billion dollars a week. Oh, and legal precedence means the G might not get off so slippery next time.

Ah, Trespassing (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425312)

For those who haven't taken property or tort law classes, it's worth noting that $1 damages is not an uncommon award in trespassing cases. Punitive damages are unlikely if there is not a showing of disregarded warnings, maliciousness, or similar. Actual damages are more common but in many cases, there aren't any actual damages. Nominative damages are awarded in order to acknowledge the owners' property rights were indeed violated; depending on attorney's fees, this can be an extremely pyrrhic victory.

I'm intrigued by the court's treatment of the privacy issues, though. In particular, we occasionally see stories around here where trespass law--and sometimes copyright law--is used to shut down and even jail photographers taking pictures in public places... but here we have the opposite, photography taking place in a private (if not entirely "private") space and the response is nominative damages against a wealthy corporation. It's a frustrating disconnect.

(Yes, I am a lawyer, but of course none of this should be construed as legal advice.)

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425500)

I'm intrigued by the court's treatment of the privacy issues, though. In particular, we occasionally see stories around here where trespass law--and sometimes copyright law--is used to shut down and even jail photographers taking pictures in public places... but here we have the opposite, photography taking place in a private (if not entirely "private") space and the response is nominative damages against a wealthy corporation. It's a frustrating disconnect.

While I agree that both of those factors should be considered, IMHO (and I believe in the court's opinion too) the intent of the photographs is the determining factor.

In many cases where courts have ruled against invasion of privacy in public places, the intent of the photographs was generally deformation of character to extortion and blackmail. When looking at the Google case, the pictures taken were not aimed to directly or even indirectly attack the Plaintiff, but instead was part of an automatic car system which either took a wrong turn or was mapped improperly.

While it's an interesting contrast, it makes sense in light of all factors.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (2)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426714)

When looking at the Google case, the pictures taken were not aimed to directly or even indirectly attack the Plaintiff, but instead was part of an automatic car system which either took a wrong turn or was mapped improperly.

Now that the case is over and they have some free time, Google's lawyers can divide up into two teams, and the side representing Google StreetView can sue the side representing Google Maps, to recover their damages in this case.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (-1, Troll)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425652)

It's a frustrating disconnect

What's frustrating is the stupidity of the judge. Quite frankly, a portion of Slashdot as well.

The judge established that they don't value their privacy because they had pictures of their home up on a real estate website and they did not move to seal the case. Well first off, not everybody would instantly assume that putting their home up for sale would result in pictures being on a website, and secondly, they may have not even understood what sealing the case meant. One of the great problems of our time, especially with the move by governments and corporations to eliminate all vestiges of freedom in cyberspace, is that average people don't understand or consider that their actions in the "real world" can have consequences in cyberspace, which have undesirable actions right back in the "real world".

Assuming everybody is a privacy expert and has the amazing level of expertise (that even most working professionals lack) to fully understand the Internet and its complete interactions with the real world is quite ignorant.

In any case, I hear the argument time and time again that if you give up even a tiniest bit of your privacy, regardless of context, intent, duration, etc. that you have categorically revoked all right to privacy. It's frustratingly moronic. According to that logic, if I volunteered myself to go through the naked porno scanners at the airport (path of least resistance, or I had a problem with being touched by a stranger in a pat down), then 5,10,20 years later society can assume that I never valued my privacy and I am no longer entitled to any defense or compensation against those that would take it without my informed consent.

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.

Google needs to be treated differently because they really are different.

Yeah, a lot about that case is frustrating.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Ah, Trespassing (4, Informative)

zacronos (937891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426132)

What's frustrating is the stupidity of the judge. Quite frankly, a portion of Slashdot as well.

[...] Well first off, not everybody would instantly assume that putting their home up for sale would result in pictures being on a website, [...]

[...]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.[...]

You say those things and then have the arrogance to call the judge, as well as a portion of Slashdot, stupid? No, of course not everyone would assume that putting their home up for sale would result in pictures on a website... that's because it's not automatic. If your realtor does that without your express permission, that realtor is asking for a lawsuit of their own. If pictures of their house were on a real estate website, it's not because the owners didn't know about them, it's because they said "heck yeah, let's put some pictures with the online listing!".

Furthermore, in my experience, the pictures are not removed once the house is sold. Why do you assume (and state authoritatively) that they would be? For example, take a look at this listing [glarmls.com] . There's a picture, and if you scroll down to the red-highlighted stuff at the bottom, you'll see the selling price, as well as the closing date... oh look, the date's in 1998, over 10 years ago! And yet the picture is still on the real estate website!

Well, at least you were right about a portion of Slashdot being stupid... methinks you weren't looking at the right part though...

Re:Ah, Trespassing (0)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426820)

You are assuming these people really did know that there pictures would be up on the Internet for everybody to see and that the Realtor obtained informed consent.

Furthermore, in my experience, the pictures ARE removed once the house is sold. I don't assume it either. I have created and managed several websites that are integrated with MLS and when the listing is removed the link to the pictures no longer works. Congratulations, you found one website for a MLS that is not removing stale records, which they are actually supposed to be doing. So your experience obviously differs from mine, but my experience does come from actually working with the MLS and various real estate firms and their websites.

AND FURTHERMORE....

Do you bring this up to support the notion that these people gave up all rights to privacy, forever, and categorically, simply because those photos were up on a real estate website?

Instead of being confrontational, try being productive. Argue that they lost their rights to privacy, or that Google deserves the same treatment as everyone else regardless of how much more power and influence they have with the information they gather.

Yes, a good portion of Slashdot is consistently stupid in that regard. Anytime there is an argument about privacy some poster will take all the entities involved and assume the same level of power, and that because your neighbor across the street can see your house, that Google should be able to "see" your house. It meets the very definition of stupid, and the fact that a judge is participating in said stupidity is frustrating.

I use stupid, not as a character assassination, but to reference their state of being. It is stupid.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426648)

What's frustrating is the stupidity of the judge. Quite frankly, a portion of Slashdot as well.

Unless you happen to be an expert in the area of Trespass law, I think the judge probably knows a lot more than you.

The judge established that they don't value their privacy because they had pictures of their home up on a real estate website and they did not move to seal the case.

The judge was merely pointing out an inconsistency in the Borings' behavior and assertions. Google was had posted almost the exact same views as was in their real estate ads.

Well first off, not everybody would instantly assume that putting their home up for sale would result in pictures being on a website, and secondly, they may have not even understood what sealing the case meant.

What? Have you sold a home recently? Every realtor who doesn't have a web site is behind the times. Let's for the sake of argument that the realtor didn't tell them that he/she was taking pictures for the website, that the Borings didn't read the agreement they signed with the realtor allowing them to publish pictures of the home on the internet, and the Borings didn't realize that pictures of the home were on the website. I'd have a hard time believing all that. The judge was pointing out if they Borings really valued their privacy they would have sealed the case. If their lawyer didn't know that, they should have hired a competent lawyer. If they represented themselves, then that's the problem of representing themselves; they don't know the law.

One thing that you don't point out that Google has a procedure to remove the pictures if the Borings wanted to keep their home out of the public view. The Borings sued before they asked Google to remove the pictures.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

Nathan Boley (1042886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425670)

I'm intrigued by the court's treatment of the privacy issues, though. In particular, we occasionally see stories around here where trespass law--and sometimes copyright law--is used to shut down and even jail photographers taking pictures in public places... but here we have the opposite, photography taking place in a private (if not entirely "private") space and the response is nominative damages against a wealthy corporation. It's a frustrating disconnect.

But are the photographers typically fined? The decision seems entirely reasonable to me - the damages should be related to how much the plantiffs privacy was actually violated. But then, IANAL. Are you suggesting that punitive damages should have been awarded?

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426258)

It's a frustrating disconnect.

Not really. As was noted in the article, the Borings had plastered information similar to that which Google collected all over the internet themselves, including pictures and its address. They clearly weren't concerned about their own privacy, they were just looking for a payday.

It's like telling all your neighbors they can use your driveway to turn around in, and then suing a stranger for turning around in your driveway. Obviously you don't really care if someone turns around in your driveway, so if you sue you'd certainly win, but you would almost certainly only win a dollar.

Frankly, as others have said, I hope the lawyer was working on contingency. He should have known better than to pursue this.

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

iceperson (582205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426272)

IANAL, but isn't there usually a big disconnect between civil and criminal courts?

Re:Ah, Trespassing (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426352)

but here we have the opposite, photography taking place in a private (if not entirely "private") space and the response is nominative damages against a wealthy corporation. It's a frustrating disconnect.

I thought Google did not drive onto their private road to take photos but rather took photos of the private road from the public road.

Does this mean i can get a dollar too? (2)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425322)

Google has invaded my privacy. I demand a free candy bar to cover emotional damages.

Re:Does this mean i can get a dollar too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426010)

No problem, you just gotta pay a lawyer to take the case for you.

What were the legal costs? (0)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425360)

Were the Borings only out for excitement?

laugh out loud (1, Interesting)

greymond (539980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425368)

So they have to pay a dollar...I wonder how much it cost in legal and a check fee for that...not that Google would care...

So let's see, what's the worst way to deliver that $1? Pennies? A moist dollar? An out of state check/money order so it has a week hold on it?

Re:laugh out loud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425466)

A moist dollar?...

I so do not want to know what this means.

Re:laugh out loud (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425508)

Given that the court can demand thousands of dollars be paid on short notice, I'd imagine that they'd be required to make it a lump sum. The only consideration at that point being ability to pay. Failure to pay when ordered and able can and does result in sanctions. Unfortunately Uncle Sam will want his cut which would probably be a quarter or so. And then the multi thousand dollar bill for the attorneys will probably have to be paid as well.

All in all winning that $1 award will probably end up costing them many thousands of dollars.

I understand the logic though. A part that's really that concerned with privacy was showing very little interest in it during the proceedings. This is one of the reasons why many jurisdictions require that the plaintiff prove damages.

Re:laugh out loud (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426178)

It would be really cool and appropriate if the Google lawyer swallowed the dollar, then fished it out of the toilet the next day and sent that dollar. Now *that* would be justice served.

Re:laugh out loud (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426502)

I don't know what the current exchange rate with Vietnam is, but my suggestion is soggy dong. Best if delivered by James May on a Honda Cub.

The Borings? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425442)

Really?

Re:The Borings? (2)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426066)

Really?

The article says they had their house on a real estate site, so presumably they were moving. I bet I know where. [wikipedia.org]

Good Judgement (3, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425444)

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:Good Judgement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426274)

Kinda like MP3's and software related patent infringement huh.

Re:Good Judgement (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426530)

I'll assume you meant this to be analogous to the case at hand as a contrarian viewpoint.

In those cases, damages can be shown although I do agree they have and are probably vastly overestimated. You won't ever hear me say there are no know abuses of the court system, nor is every judgment fair, I'll simply say that is the intent of the court system and it should be treated as such. For that reason, the judge in this case got the ruling very much right as there was no proof of any damages.

Re:Good Judgement (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426508)

>but there was no real damage here.

The same argument can be made for the neighborhood peeping tom. What real damage is there if a creep sees your wife or daughter naked?

Re:Good Judgement (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426616)

And that's why I think the judge returned the judgment as such.

If Google can get away with driving into your driveway and taking pictures of your house, can Operation Rescue do that do a gynecologist? Can the Aryan Nation do that to an executive of the Anti-Defamation League? And could they point at this as precedent? (Almost as important: would they do it because they thought this was legal precedent, whether it actually is or isn't?) If Google gets away with trespassing for the purposes of photographing a private home, why not everybody?

The minimal damages were also correct. The award to the plaintiff, even if it was a penny, is the message "No, you can't do this without consequences. Now go forth and do no evil, like you say you don't." There is a difference between public property and private, and the judge clearly felt Google needed to be reminded of that while not putting it into people's heads that a payday awaited.

Re:Good Judgement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426788)

Biggest problem I have with this isn't the award but that if you did this to a corporation they would sue you into the ground and you would be paying for the rest of your life and then a corporation does it and they pay a $1 fee...

$1 seems appropriate (2)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425502)

Nothing really to see there...I have been to their cookie-cutter house and man, are they Boring!

odd (2)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425528)

I would think that if I, chose, to photograph my home. I would also get to chose what is visible in the yard, through the windows, in the drive, etc. I can chose to share photos I chose to take, any way I want. I took them, they are how I want my property presented, they don't invade my privacy. Having Google driving onto my property and take photos is completely different, and the judge seems to agree. I would have awarded them more than $1. They need to find something they authored in the street view photos, and then sue Google for copyright infringement for each use of the image. I hear that copyright infringement can get tens of thousands of dollars per shared item.

Re:odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425604)

I would think that if I, chose, to photograph my home. I would also get to chose what is visible in the yard, through the windows, in the drive, etc.

I can chose to share photos I chose to take, any way I want. I took them, they are how I want my property presented, they don't invade my privacy.

Having Google driving onto my property and take photos is completely different, and the judge seems to agree.

I would have awarded them more than $1.

They need to find something they authored in the street view photos, and then sue Google for copyright infringement for each use of the image.
I hear that copyright infringement can get tens of thousands of dollars per shared item.

Excellent point-- we should have the right to control our own privacy, but in this great US of A that is continually under attack.

Did you notice how I actually read the comments and then agreed with the one that said what I was going to say? Instead of being the hundredth moron to say the same thing?

Re:odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425630)

They need to find something they authored in the street view photos, and then sue Google for copyright infringement for each use of the image.
I hear that copyright infringement can get tens of thousands of dollars per shared item.

You should copyright the dumb look that doubtless is on your face all the time, then accuse people of "misuse of copyright" when they look at you.

Mind you, it'll be a trick getting them into your mom's basement...

Re:odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426220)

everyone on the street knows the trick to get into your mom's basement, if you know what i mean dot dot dot

Re:odd (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425696)

I would agree, had the pictures shown a clearly private place (e.g. if the street view cameras were taking pictures over the top of privacy fences). However, that wasn't the situation in this case (as far as I could tell). Although it is technically trespassing to drive into someone's driveway if they've posted a "No Trespassing" sign, you'd be hard pressed to show a significant loss of privacy given that:

  • Anyone could have walked up or driven up and seen the same thing.
  • The homeowners didn't feel their privacy was important enough to put up a fence with a locked gate.
  • Chances are, anyone could have gotten fairly similar pictures by using a long zoom without trespassing.

So in this case, the judge probably made the right call. It's more technical trespassing than any substantive invasion of privacy in this case. That said, given some of the other details (for example, the Google cars not allowing the drivers to delete anything), I still would have spanked them with some hefty punitive damages; I merely would not have awarded those damages to the homeowner---maybe five million dollars donated to the privacy advocacy charity of their choice or some such.

The judge likely doesn't agree with you at all (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425732)

"Having Google driving onto my property and take photos is completely different, and the judge seems to agree."

Unless there is a huge fence, and they had to drive past it to take the photo, then there is no significant difference between taking the photo from their driveway and taking it from the street. I suspect the Judge was able to form this conclusion on her own, so I highly doubt that your conclusion that "the judge seems to agree" is anything more than magical thinking on your part. It would be conjecture to claim I knew what she was thinking, but "meh ... give em' a dollar to send a message that such ridiculous suits will not be financially beneficial to future would be Borings" seems more likely to me.

Re:The judge likely doesn't agree with you at all (2)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426040)

I don't know about the local laws there,

But here in Canada a "residential zoned property" cannot have a fence exceeding 1.5m (about 5') in the front of the property and everything visible from the street is free for the public to "make representations of". This includes commercial reproduction.

Re:odd (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426198)

Google was probably wrong but it was a *mistake*. The fine was appropriate.

Who says Judges don't have a sense of Humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425600)

Here's the ruling translated into a quick note from the judge to the plaintiffs:

"Dear Mr. and Mrs Boring:

You are right. They did invade your privacy. However, you rub me the wrong way by not taking greater measures to protect your privacy so I'm only awarding you $1.00. Hope you enjoy your Pyrrhic victory.

The Judge"

Next up, Canada wins lawsuit (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425622)

All your privacy is belong to people, and nothing Google says will change that basic fact in the Canadian Constitution.

Oh come on (2)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425716)

You could have at least thrown in a coupon for Bennigan's! Make them feel like they won something!

Digusting.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34425724)

Had the shoe been on the other foot and the Borings had trespassed against Google... the court probably would have award the corporation $8M while the people (whom the law is SUPPOSED to protect) get $1. Disgusting.

The result is in and (4, Funny)

Bazar (778572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425788)

I guess one could say that this case had

*puts on shades*
a Boring outcome

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH

Class Action, Baby! (1)

brirus (1938402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425922)

Great! Now if everybody on Earth sues 'em for a dollar, we can bring 'em to their knees!

Well (2)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34425952)

Why does this sound like some straight out of the movie Trading Places?

"Here you go... ...1 dollar"

I'll buy that (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426032)

I'll buy THAT for a dollar.

$1 damages? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426148)

I guess there just wasn't anything interesting to see at the Boring place.

It could be reduced to $0 (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426294)

When Google appeals this case. If they should choose to do so

People are 2nd class citizen in the US (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34426432)

Giant corp violate the law against individual, individual already posted picture elsewhere for free, judge awards nominal $1 to individual.

Individual violate the law against giant corp, giant corp already broadcasted music over radio for free, judge awards statutory $750 per song to giant corp.

WTF?!

Seriously, privacy laws should state a minimum statutory damage per violation, for the same reason statutory damages is specified in copyright laws - difficult to quantify damage.

Co3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34426490)

flaws in the BSD User5 With Large
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