Frenchman takes Google to court over photo showing him urinating

Posted Mar 2, 2012 by JohnThomas Didymus
A 50-year-old villager is suing Google for making him a "laughing stock" after the company's Street View camera captured him urinating in his garden in western France and posted the embarassing image online.
flickr/Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)
Reuters reports the Frenchman took Google to court on Thursday over the photo its Street View application published online that showed him urinating in his front yard.
According to the man, his neighbors recognized him on the online image. The man is complaining that Google has made him a 'laughing stock' in his village which he says is a small community in which everybody knows each other. According to Daily Mail, the village is in the Maine-et-Loire region of France, and has a population of only about 3,000.
The man said Google's action constitutes a violation of his privacy because he took care to hide himself from public view in his garden behind closed gates before he relieved himself in November 2010.
But unknown to the man, a passing Street View camera mounted on the roof of a car caught him urinating.
According to Jean-Noel Bouillaud, the lawyer of the unnamed man who also asked for the name of his client's village not to be mentioned, "My client was caught in the privacy of his own home with the gate closed...he discovered the image while looking at images of his own house, and then realised other people in the village had seen the picture too." The man's lawyer explained further: "It's a small village and everyone recognised him. He has become a laughing stock...Everyone has the right to a degree of secrecy. In this particular case, some may say it's more amusing than serious."
According to Bouillaud, his client discovered "the existence of this photo after noticing that he had become an object of ridicule in his village."
Reuters notes the man's lawyer did not explain why he chose to urinate outdoors rather than indoors.
According to Daily Mail, the man is demanding that Google remove the image from the Internet and pay him 10,000 euros in damages for invasion of his privacy and illegal use of his image.
But Google's French lawyer Christophe Bigot, has asked the court in the city of Angers to declare the complaint null and void, saying Google Maps is owned by the U.S. headquarters of the company and not by Google France.
Mr. Bigot also explained: "Besides that, Google Street View has a mechanism in place where people caught on camera can blur out their own image with a few simple clicks of the mouse."
According to Reuters, Google's Street View covers some 30 countries and allows users of Google Maps to view photos of streets taken by cameras mounted on cars.
AFP reports French data privacy watchdog imposed a fine of 100,000 euros ($142,000) on Google last March for collecting private information while compiling photos for use in its online service.
Daily Mail reports the court will make a ruling on the case on March 15.