Archive for January, 2011

Internet Speech Freedom on the Line in Paris

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Professor Joseph H.H. Weiler

Joseph H.H. Weiler, an extremely well-regarded scholar of international law (and my teacher back in law school) has completed his criminal trial for libel in France. The verdict isn’t due back until March 3rd, but Weiler’s account of the trial is up on his journal’s blog, and it’s great reading.

The case stems from an unflattering review of Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller’s book The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. Weiler didn’t write the review, but he did publish it on Global Law Books, a website of the European Journal of International Law. Weiler is and was editor-in-chief of the EJIL.

Calvo-Goller was offended and demanded that Weiler pull the review down. Weiler offered to publish Calvo-Goller’s response, but he refused to remove the review. After his investigation, Weiler determined the piece contained no factual inaccuracies.

While the case involves a book review, not a blog entry, the stakes for blog law are high. That’s because of what Calvo-Goller did next.

She didn’t sue Weiler where he lived. Instead, Calvo-Goller filed a criminal complaint in Paris.

From Weiler’s post:

Why Paris you might ask? Indeed. The author of the book was an Israeli academic. The book was in English. The publisher was Dutch. The reviewer was a distinguished German professor. The review was published on a New York website.

Beyond doubt, once a text or image go online, they become available worldwide, including France. But should that alone give jurisdiction to French courts in circumstances such as this? Does the fact that the author of the book, it turned out, retained her French nationality before going to live and work in Israel make a difference? …

Paris … is very plaintiff friendly.

In France an attack on one’s honor is taken as seriously as a bodily attack. Substantively, if someone is defamed, the bad faith of the defamer is presumed just as in our system, if someone slaps you in the face, it will be assumed that he intended to do so. Procedurally it is open to anyone who feels defamed, to avoid the costly civil route, and simply lodge a criminal complaint. At this point the machinery of the State swings into action.

The French Republic v. Weiler has been brewing for a while. But this month, it  finally went to trial.

The trial took place in in France’s version of Old Bailey – the hallowed Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris,
where Émile Zola was tried for libel over the publication of his J’accuse! letter. More than 100 years later, France is still criminally prosecuting alleged libel.

Especially interesting for me was Weiler’s account of the procedural aspects of the quick trial, which he described as “a strange mélange of the criminal and civil virtually unknown in the Common Law world.”

Despite its unfamiliarity, Weiler expressed considerable admiration for a procedure that was steadfastly “aimed at establishing the truth.”

“The trial was impeccable by any standard with which I am familiar,” Weiler wrote in the post. “Due process was definitely served. It was a fair trial.”

Read Weiler’s full account. It’s worth it. The stakes in this case are high. Blog freedom, along with Weiler, is “in the dock.”

Wendy Seltzer on the DMCA’s Effects on Free Speech

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology has published Free Speech Unmoored in Copyright’s Safe Harbor: Chilling Effects of the DMCA on the First Amendment [pdf] by Wendy Seltzer, a fellow with Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University.

Here is the abstract, taken from the draft version of the paper posted on SSRN.

Each week, more blog posts are redacted, more videos deleted, and more web pages removed from Internet search results based on private claims of copyright infringement. Under the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Internet service providers are encouraged to respond to copyright complaints with content takedowns, assuring their immunity from liability while diminishing the rights of their subscribers and users. Paradoxically, the law’s shield for service providers becomes a sword against the public who depend upon these providers as platforms for speech.

Under the DMCA, process for an accused infringer is limited. The law offers Internet service providers (ISPs) protection from copyright liability if they remove material expeditiously in response to unverified complaints of infringement. Even if the accused poster responds with counter-notification of non-infringement, DMCA requires the service provider to keep the post offline for more than a week.

If this takedown procedure took place through the courts, it would trigger First Amendment scrutiny as a prior restraint, silencing speech before an adjudication of lawfulness. Because DMCA takedowns are privately administered through ISPs, however, they have not received such constitutional scrutiny, despite their high risk of error. I add to prior scholarly analysis of the conflict between copyright and the First Amendment by showing how the copyright notice-and-takedown regime operates in the shadow of the law, doing through private intermediaries what government could not to silence speech. In the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, why can copyright remove political videos when campaign finance law must not?

This Article argues for greater constitutional scrutiny. The public is harmed by the loss of speech via indirect chilling effect no less than if the government had wrongly ordered removal of lawful postings directly. Indeed, because DMCA takedown costs less to copyright claimants than a federal complaint and exposes claimants to few risks, it invites more frequent abuse or error than standard copyright law. I describe several of the error cases in detail. The indirect nature of the chill on speech should not shield the legal regime from challenge.

When non-infringing speech is taken down, not only does its poster lose an opportunity to reach an audience, the public loses the benefit of hearing that lawful speech in the marketplace of ideas. Yet under the DMCA’s pressure, the poster’s private incentive to counter-notify and the host’s incentives to support challenged speech are often insufficient to support an optimal communication environment for the public. Instead, this set of incentives produces a blander, but not significantly less copyright infringing, information space.

Copyright claimants assert that the expedited process of the DMCA is critical to suppress infringement in the highly networked digital world. While many instances of infringement are properly targeted for takedown under the DMCA, I argue that the accuracy of some takedowns does not excuse a careful examination of the rate and costs of error. I therefore recommend changes to the law to reduce the error, balancing speech protection and copyright.

Part I surveys the legal, economic, and architectural sources of the DMCA’s chilling effects on speech. Part II then examines the First Amendment doctrines that should guide lawmaking, with critique of copyright’s place in speech law. Part III reviews the history and mechanics of the DMCA and provides examples of chilled speech and a few instances of limited warming. Finally, Part IV engages current policy debates and proposes reform to protect online speech better.

Awesome §230 Conference at Santa Clara Law

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Seal of Santa Clara UniversityThe High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law is hosting a fantastic conference on March 4, 2011 about § 230, the safe harbor that shields online content providers from liability for defamation posted by users. It’s one of the most important legal aspects of blogging, and the Santa Clara event, called 47 U.S.C. § 230: a 15 Year Retrospective, offers a spectacular lineup of speakers. Look at this:

  • Kenneth Zeran, plaintiff in Zeran v. America Online (4th Cir. 1997)
  • Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Zoe Lofgren, U.S. House of Representatives, California 16th
  • Alex Macgillivray, General Counsel, Twitter
  • Kai Falkenberg, Editorial Counsel, Forbes
  • Cindy Cohn, Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • David Ardia, Citizen Media Law Project/Harvard Berkman Center
  • Chris Cox, Partner, Bingham McCutchen LLP
  • Patrick Carome, Partner, WilmerHale
  • Mike Rhodes, Partner, Cooley LLP
  • Maria Crimi Speth, Shareholder, Jaburg & Wilk
  • Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University School of Law
  • Susan Crawford, Cardozo School of Law
  • Nancy Kim, Cal Western School of Law
  • Felix Wu, Cardozo School of Law

The event is co-sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center, Stanford Law School’s Law, Science & Technology program, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, the New York Law School’s Institute for Information Law and Policy, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, the EFF, and the Media Law Resource Center.

I can’t think of better way to earn five hours of CLE credit. And it’s free for law students, full-time law professors, the press, and public-interest attorneys.

Michelle Sherman on E-Discovery Applied to Blogs and Other Social Media

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Sheppard Mullin is one of those law firms that went full tilt on blogging as a means of rainmaking. They’ve got a ton of blogs. Not all of them are updated much. But their Social Media Law Update Blog is good stuff.

Michelle Sherman, an of counsel in the firm’s LA office, who has an interesting bio, has a post on how e-discovery rules apply to social media, including blogs. She recommends building off your e-mail policy as a starting point and checking regulations that are specific for your industry.

By the way, what’s interesting about her bio? She quit as a partner at Sheppard Mullin to do a year as an assistant public defender to do more trials. She then came back to an interesting mix of litigation and corporate advising.

Ha’p @kisbell.

WNYC Interview of Previously Censored Tunisian Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Lina Ben Mhenni

Lina Ben Mhenni, photo from her blog

WNYC’s On the Media has run an interview of Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, whose blog, A Tunisian Girl, was banned under now-deposed dictator Ben Ali’s regime.

Ben Mhenni’s influential blog posted pictures of people injured and killed during the recent Tunisian protests.

In the interview, Ben Mhenni says she is currently being followed everywhere and relentlessly harassed by the police, but that there is nonetheless a burgeoning sense of freedom of speech in the country. Journalists are able to work in the open, and her blog is no longer being censored.

While her blog was banned, only foreign audiences were able to read it. Now, she says, her domestic audience is building.

Is the Salt Lake Tribune Counting Down to Using Righthaven to Sue Readers and Bloggers?

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Jesse Fruhwirth of Salt Lake’s CityWeekly.net warns that it looks like a copyright-suit hailstorm is brewing with the Salt Lake Tribune.

He points to this notice to readers posted by the Tribune, and he notes that the Denver Post did the same thing about a month before they unleashed copyright thugster Righthaven on a small-time blog in South Carolina.

WSJ on Employers Stepping on Social Media Mines

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Wall Street Journal logoFor a long time there’s been a lot of talk about how employees and job candidates are hurting themselves by posting to blogs, Facebook and Twitter. But, as The Wall Street Journal notes in a story today by Jeanette Borzo (page B6 in print), employers are increasingly causing a mess for themselves by way of social media too.

The American Medical Response case has a hearing next week, the WSJ reports. There, the employer is accused of violating federal labor law for terminating an employee based on postings to Facebook.

The WSJ article also discusses the case of restaurant managers of Hillstone Restaurant Group in New Jersey who broke into a password-protected MySpace page that employees had set up. The employees were using the MySpace page to gab about work. The restaurant group was sued for violating the Stored Communications Act, a federal law, and was ordered to serve up $3,403 in back wages and $13,600 in punitives. The suit was eventually settled pending appeal.

Now, on a bit of a sidenote, I thought it was noteworthy that the Wall Street Journal article disclosed the following:

(Myspace is a unit of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.)

Isn’t that a little surprising? I mean, I of course know that Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for half a billion dollars a few years ago. I just didn’t know that MySpace still existed.

Ha ha. And while we’re on that invective tangent, here’s Ross Pruden on how Facebook vanquished MySpace. Interesting business-managementy stuff.

(By the way, I’ll confess I’m a little loathe to link to a Wall Street Journal article when I know that they may dump it behind their paywall any minute. I’ve avoided the WSJ in the past because of that. But I’m letting it go this time.)

Anna Explains How Not to Tweet Your Way to Court

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

SF Weekly and Dear Anna logosCourtney Love’s legal troubles over her Twitter activity inspired a reader to ask Anna Pulley, blogger for SF Weekly, how to avoid getting sued over tweets. Pulley’s answer is here:

Anna’s best advice is this:

“The most important thing you can do to avoid being sued is this: Don’t be an a–hole.”

(The deletion is mine, btw. I don’t mean to be a prude, but I’m blogging from North Dakota. Not everything that flies in  the Bay Area flies here. For example, the annual pantsless BART ride [NSFW*], for a lot of reasons, is unlikely to catch on up here.)

But Pulley is right. You can get all the legal advice in the world. None of it is adds up to the simple wisdom that if you don’t want to get sued, then don’t make someone mad enough to sue you.


* Contains pictures of pantsless people in an urban environment. Safe for work in San Francisco, but may not be safe for work in other areas of the country.

Wolverton on Net Neutrality

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A column by my friend, Troy Wolverton, in the San Jose Mercury News, does an excellent job of explaining why the FCC’s new net neutrality rules aren’t cause for too much celebration.

He pithily explains the tech, the law, what’s at stake, and his opinion on it. In particular, he explains why it’s not okay to ensure net neutrality for wired connections but not for wireless connections.

WARNING TO BLB READERS: Be careful with that column! The San Jose Mercury News’ parent company, MediaNews Group, recently signed up with Righthaven, which then sued a blogger who reposted a column published in sister paper The Denver Post.

50 Cent Pumps Penny Stock to 32 Cents via Twitter

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

50 Cent's Sleek-brand cans. (Image: Sleek Audio)

Of all the ways there are to get in trouble blogging, one I don’t think we’ve talked about at all here on Blog Law Blog is violating federal securities law.

Rapper 50 Cent may have come close to that in the last several days. He unleased a series of tweets that encouraged his Twitter followers to buy into a penny stock he owned.

It looks like the stock was about 4.5 cents a share before the tweets started. It then skyrocketed to a peak of 32 cents about 4 days later. According to reports, that netted 50 Cent around $9 million – at least on paper.

But apparently he hasn’t cashed in. And that, according to one Denver law firm’s blog, means he probably hasn’t run afoul of the law.

Shares have now leveled out at around 28 cents a share. While that’s off its peak, it’s still way, way up from where it was.

The stock, HNHI, is a business that distributes Fiddy’s headphones, which are apparently chasing the success of Dr. Dre’s own brand of cans.

According to Chris Barth on the Forbes blog Between the Lines, 50 Cent’s Twitter feed included:

  • “HNHI is the stock symbol for TVG sleek by50 is one of the 15 products this year. If you get in technically I work for you. BIG MONEY”
  • “TVG’s stock went from 5cent to 10 in one day. You can double your money right now. Just get what you can afford.”
  • “HNHI is the stock symbol for TVG there launching 15 different products. they are no joke get in now.”
  • “You better get in now TVG I’m never saying this again. Watch how this company blows up.”
  • “Ok ok ok my friends just told me stop tweeting about HNHI so we can get all the money. Hahaha check it out its the real deal. ”

Then, at a point at which Barth suspects 50 Cent got some legal advice, those tweets were deleted. Then some new tweets:

  • “I own HNHI stock thoughts on it are my opinion. Talk to financial advisor about it”
  • “HNHI is the right investment for me it may or may not be right for u! Do ur homework”

From @tweetlawtweets

tweetlawtweets Eric E. Johnson
50 Cent pumps stock w/ tweets, makes ~$9m, then deletes and starts tweeting disclaimers. Bottle fulla bub or SEC “hug”? http://is.gd/7YC20m

Danielle Citron on Cyber Civil Rights

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. And it reminds me that the relation between blogging and civil rights is one that could use some more exploration.

A paper that discusses many aspects of the relation is Cyber Civil Rights, 89 Boston University Law Review 61 (2009) by the University of Maryland School of Law’s Danielle Keats Citron. [Download from SSRN]

The paper already has 23 citing references on Westlaw. Here is the abstract:

Social networking sites and blogs have increasingly become breeding grounds for anonymous online groups that attack women, people of color, and members of other traditionally disadvantaged groups. These destructive groups target individuals with defamation, threats of violence, and technology-based attacks that silence victims and concomitantly destroy their privacy. Victims go offline or assume pseudonyms to prevent future attacks, impoverishing online dialogue and depriving victims of the social and economic opportunities associated with a vibrant online presence. Attackers manipulate search engines to reproduce their lies and threats for employers and clients to see, creating digital “scarlet letters” that ruin reputations.

Today’s cyber attack groups update a history of anonymous mobs coming together to victimize and subjugate vulnerable people. The social science literature identifies conditions that magnify dangerous group behavior and those that tend to defuse it. Unfortunately, Web 2.0 technologies accelerate mob behavior. With little reason to expect self-correction of this intimidation of vulnerable individuals, the law must respond.

General criminal statutes and tort law proscribe much of the mobs’ destructive behavior, but the harm they inflict also ought to be understood and addressed as civil rights violations. Civil rights suits reach the societal harm that would otherwise go unaddressed and would play a crucial expressive role. Acting against these attacks does not offend First Amendment principles when they consist of defamation, true threats, intentional infliction of emotional distress, technological sabotage, and bias-motivated abuse aimed to interfere with a victim’s employment opportunities. To the contrary, it helps preserve vibrant online dialogue and promote a culture of political, social, and economic equality.

Section 230 and Forced Removal of Defamatory Content

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Mike Masnick profiles some Section 230 cases that are important for bloggers:

Town in Ontario Stops Footing Legal Bills for Blog Lawsuit

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Phyllis Morris, blog-bothered former mayor of Aurora. (Image: Phyllis Morris Campaign, used without permission.)

There seems to be a never ending stream of local government people in Canada waging war against blogs that criticize them. (E.g., Meaford, ON; Edmonton, AB; Toronto, ON.)

Here’s the latest one from this fall: Phyllis Morris, when she was mayor of Aurora, Ontario and running for re-election, got the town council to agree to foot the legal bills for going after the Aurora Citizen blog and anonymous critics voicing their opinions on the site. With taxpayers paying, Morris then sued a bunch of people, including people behind the blog, anonymous defendants, and WordPress.

After the town had incurred $43,000 in legal fees, the council voted (just before Christmas) to cut off funding.

Why the change of heart? Well, apparently people in the town started to squawk. (Which is why politicians like to keep these legal campaigns secret when then can. E.g., Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel.) In other words, politicians like to avoid criticism. If silencing critics with lawsuits doesn’t work, then governing in accordance with the will of the electorate is the plan B.

My favorite bit is Councillor John Gallo, who was quoted in the YorkRegion as saying, “we never agreed to sue any private residents; that was never on the table when I agreed to the motion.”

Really?

The September 14, 2010 resolution directed the town solicitor to hire outside counsel and “take any and all actions to bring resolution to this matter[.]”

If Gallo didn’t think that would include a lawsuit, then he’s a real noodlehead.

By the way, Gallo was the lone vote on the council for continuing to use town money to fund the legal war against the blog. He didn’t think it would be right to change things now. Well, clearly, he’s a man of integrity.

Masnick Reflects on Public Domain Day

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

techdirt logoFurther to our discussion of the public domain – mostly relevant to bloggers as a source of free images – Mike Masnick of TechDirt reflects on Public Domain Day, as other nations receive new content into the public domain, and once again, nothing in the U.S. becomes free of copyright restrictions.

The Public Domain Enhancement Act

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Finding pictures and other raw media to enhance a blog can be frustrating – if, that is, you are staying clear of copyright infringement. Of course it would be  much easier to find great images for free and legal use if there were more material in the public domain.

A bill that attempted to get that done was the Public Domain Enhancement Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in 2003 as H.R.2601. It would have required the payment of a $1 maintenance fee on copyrighted works older than 50 years.

That’s not a big out of pocket expense. But by requiring some slight affirmative act by people wishing to maintain their copyright, the law would have caused a slew of works to enter the public domain in cases where the creators didn’t care about retaining the copyright.

Unfortunately, cheap-skates they are, the entertainment lobby defeated the bill.

But maybe in the future? Who knows. It would be nice.

You can read more about it from Larry Lessig (who called it the Eric Eldred Act) and Wikipedia.

Righthaven Now Suing Bloggers Over Graphics

Friday, January 7th, 2011

From Steve Green in the Las Vegas Sun:

We should all be grateful to the Las Vegas Sun for devoting so much coverage to the Righthaven lawsuits, and to Steve Green for doing such a good job with it.

Courtney Love Going to Trial for Tweet Libel

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Courtney Love’s facing a civil trial in February for tweeting that fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute. If you’re looking to be a defamation defendant, that’s a good way to do it. Almost as on target as these folks.

Apparently Simorangkir was in a spat with Love over unpaid bills on a few thousand bucks worth of clothes.

I know an attorney in LA who sued Love a few years ago over unpaid wages owed to his clients. It was pretty funny to hear him describe his troubles in trying to serve the papers on her. I think he finally got her cornered at the Grammys.

But back to Simorangkir v. Love. THR, Esq. reports that Love may be planning a sort of insanity defense:

Love’s attorneys have their own witnesses, including a medical expert who plans to testify that even if Love’s statements were untrue, her mental state was not “subjectively malicious” enough to justify the defamation lawsuit.
That claim — something akin to an insanity defense for social media — suggests that Twitter was so appealing and addictive for Love that she had no appreciation for how the comments she posted would be received by others.

That’s just funny. And it really makes it sound like Love’s going down in flames. The only thing that makes Love’s litigation prospects look dimmer is this quote from her lawyer:

“We don’t believe there’s any defamation, and even if there were defamatory statements, there was no damage,” says James Janowitz, an attorney for Love.

But, you know, assuming just like THEORETICALLY that it’s defamatory to accuse someone of being a drug-pushing prostitute, we feel there’s a good backup argument on damages. Yikes.

Read the whole thing from Matt Belloni in THR, Esq. It’s totally worth it.

When Do Works Enter the Public Domain?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Copyright protection, under the U.S. Constitution, only lasts for “limited times.” That means eventually (at least theoretically) all copyrighted works, including photos that can be incorporated into a blog post, will enter the public domain at some point in the future.

So how old does a work have to be to enter the public domain?

Well, it’s complicated. You are generally safe assuming something is in the public domain if it was published in 1922 or before. (The hazy legal world of apparent exceptions are discussed here and here.)

Does that mean that next year works from 1923 will enter the public domain?

Unfortuntately, no. The reason why is that Congress has been, for decades now, regularly extending copyright terms at the bidding of the entertainment industry. The latest special-interest windfall was the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (text, summary). Because of this most recent extension legislation, the public domain is stuck at 1922 and will be for quite a while.

The public domain won’t grow again because of copyright expiration until 2019 – unless Congress extends the copyright term again. And you can bet that special interests are lined up to lobby for that extension when the time comes.

Since Disney lobbied hard for its passage, the Sonny Bono Act was dubbed the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” by some. Without the law, Mickey Mouse’s original cartoon short films would have entered the public domain by now.

But note that, because of sloppy work done in Disney’s early days, people who have looked at the matter closely (here and here) have concluded that the original Mickey Mouse and the motion picture Steamboat Willie (in which Mickey made one of his first appearances) are no longer the subject of a valid copyright. The public domain status of Mickey Mouse remains untested in court. People tend to be very afraid of Disney lawyers. I can’t imagine why.

Paola Dubini and Mario Campana on Blogs as Sweatshops

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Paola Dubini of Bocconi University in Milan and Mario Campana have posted to SSRN a paper with the uplifting title, Blogging as Entrepreneurial Sweatshop.

Here is the abstract:

Blogging is a complex phenomenon that is hard to define. The more a blog is visible, the more it is capable to attract advertising and consequently to monetize the authors’ effort in keeping it alive and appealing. Therefore a blog can be considered as a minimalist organization, a way of doing entrepreneurship. The work is amied to explore the phenomenon of blogging as entrepreneurial sweatshops, in particular for women.

A longitudinal and comparative anlaysis has been conducted on an Italian Sample and a US sample individuating the internal and external factors that influence entrepreneurial success of blogs.

The Google Street View Case – What it Doesn’t Mean for Bloggers

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

A Google Street View car driving through the countryside. (Image: Google. Used without permission.)

A few weeks ago, Google lost a lawsuit over its Street View feature. The reporting about the case was generally off the mark, so let me try to clear things up.

In the federal lawsuit, Aaron and Christine Boring of Franklin Park, Pa. won $1 in damages against Google, Inc. for trespassing.

Press coverage (e.g., this not-very-well-written story) made it sound as if Google incurred liability by taking a picture of private property and displaying it on the internet. That’s not the case. The reason Google was liable for trespassing is because Google drove its Street View car onto private land, going up a private road that was marked with a “No Trespassing” sign.

In other words, the case doesn’t say it’s trespassing to take a picture of private property and display it on the internet. (Indeed it’s not.) What the case means is that it’s trespassing to trespass.

So, if you are a blogger, this case shouldn’t make you nervous about posting pictures of private property – unless those pictures serve as evidence of your having done something unlawful.

And that’s what Google did. By posting the pictures, they proved that they committed a civilly actionable trespass. It also would appear that Google violated Pennsylvania criminal trespass statute at 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503.

It was absurd for Google to fight this in court. They should have respected the law, and they should have respected private property rights. It’s too bad they only had to pay a dollar. I personally think a small measure of punitive damages would have been in order.

It’s another case of Google doing whatever Google gets ready to do – regardless of the law.

And they keep getting away with it.