Google Fined $1 for Trespassing

Google logoGoogle has to pay $1 in damages as a result of the driver of one of its Street View cars trespassing on the private property of a Pittsburgh-area couple by driving the vehicle equipped with panaromic cameras about the length of three football fields down a gravel driveway. The driver went past the "No Trespassing Private Road" sign and snapped photos of the house, swimming pool and other parts of the property before leaving.

Those images were eventually published on Google's Street View site, which lets users pick a point on a map and take a virtual walk down the street.

Aaron and Christine Boring, of Franklin Park, Pa., initiated their lawsuit against Google in 2008, but the case was at first dismissed. After an appeal and death of the initial presiding judge, the case was reassigned, and this past Thursday a U.S. magistrate judge approved a consent judgment, which is when the court issues an order based on an outcome agreed to by the parties.

Google is now considered "an adjudicated trespasser," and if it trespasses on anyone else's property Find Local Homes for Sale Browse through photos of millions of home listings on AOL Real Estate See Homes for Sale Search Foreclosures for Sale again, sanctions can be far more damaging if it can't prove how it changed its policies, said the couple's attorney, Gregg Zegarelli, who added that in its defense "Google claimed that there is no privacy in backyards because people in airplanes can see into backyards. Google claimed it was like someone merely turning around, entry by the police, and pizza delivery person. Google said Americans need fences, gates and guard dogs to stop Google."

"Google's defenses would have infuriated a jury. Google knew it, and that is why Google conceded," Zegarelli told HousingWatch. "It would be the end of private property as we know it ... and it remains our position that Google's claim was absurd, without merit and would have been ultimately sanctionable."

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif. issued a statement that said: "We are pleased that this lawsuit has finally ended with plaintiffs' acknowledgment that they are entitled to only $1." It could not be reached for further comment.

In a joint statement issued by the Borings accessible at GoogleTrespass.com, the couple said, "Google could have just sent us an apology letter in the very beginning, but chose to try to prove they had a legal right to be on our land. We are glad they finally gave up."

And no Google hasn't actually paid the dollar yet. Zegarelli says "We expect they will."

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