Google admits trespassing with Street View, hit with crushing $1 fine

Federal judge approves settlement in suit brought by Pennsylvania couple

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Who says the little people can't win against a large corporation?

A two-year-old lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania couple was settled Thursday when federal Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon approved a consent judgment stating that online search giant Google admitted it intentionally trespassed when it took a photo of Aaron and Christine Boring's home in Franklin Park, Pa.

As a penalty for its transgression, Google has agreed to pay the couple $1. Yes, that's one dollar. We await the imminent plunge of Google's stock.

From the Associated Press:

"We are pleased that this lawsuit has finally ended with plaintiffs' acknowledgment that they are entitled to only $1," Google said in a statement to The Associated Press, adding that its ability to continue the Street View feature is unaffected.

No kidding.

The Borings' attorney, Gregg Zegarelli, said his clients are satisfied to have made the point that Google trespassed and realize they "can't control a company such as Google that operates worldwide."

True enough. That kind of power is reserved only for guys like Joe Lieberman.

The Borings said in a statement released by Zegarelli that the amount of the judgment isn't the issue.

"This is one sweet dollar of vindication," the statement 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."

I believe the couple had every right to be upset about the picture. In the lawsuit, they argued that the only way the photo of their house could have been taken was if the driver of the car Google was using to collect digital images for Street View "traveled about 1,000 feet up a private road clearly marked 'No Trespassing,'" AP reported.

Honestly, what gives Google the right to do that? Because it's Google? Maybe someone at Google should Google "no trespassing" and read what it means.

I'm glad the Borings "won" the case and made their point, but talk about a hollow victory. At least the dollar can go toward Zegarelli's legal fees.

You want your little dollar? Here's your little dollar. Now shut up and go away. "One sweet dollar of vindication," indeed.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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