We recently noted the unveiling of Google‘s “street view” feature here in Austin.
Well, a couple in Pittsburgh who purchased a home on a street marked with a sign reading, “Private Road,” are suing Google for injunctive relief, as well as for invasion of privacy, trespass, negligence, and conversion.
I’m dubious as to whether the mere presence of a sign declaring a road to be “private,” confers any exclusion rights to the owners of homes abutting the street, unless of course the road really is private property. If it is truly private, then the trespass and invasion of privacy counts could conceivably stick. I don’t really see how the negligence charge can stand, but the conversion claim is interesting (if likely unsuccessful).
The homeowners are arguing, in effect, the mass dissemination of the image of their house somehow enriches Google while detracting from their home’s value. Problem with this argument is that no ads appear on the Google mapping page, and I would think Google’s lawyers could make a fairly convincing argument the home’s value would only be increased by the increased visibility. Plus, how does the Google street view feature decrease their home’s value any more than Google’s satellite view feature, both of which show similar levels of detail of the home.
My best advice for those seeking to avoid pictures of their homes winding up on Google’s street view? Move to a gated area: I checked here in Austin, and lo and behold, there is no street view functionality for the gated neighborhoods with which I’m familiar (for example, all of Rob Roy is unavailable).