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OFF BEAT: Frenchman sues Google for privy-break breach


A French villager caught urinating in his front yard by a Google Inc. Street View camera is suing the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant for infringement of privacy.

The Street View application reportedly relies on cars driving through neighborhoods around the world with cameras mounted on their roves. Google’s cameras occasionally capture images of residents in awkward moments.

But the Frenchman who lives in a village of about 3,000 in the Maine-et-Loire region of France took offense when he discovered his image while looking for a Google photo of his home.

Reports say the man, who is about 50, thought he was urinating in private behind a closed gate, which the Google camera evidently spied over the top of.

Now he has filed a lawsuit asking for about $13,000 and removal of the photo. He claims his right to privacy was violated and residents of his small town have recognized him even though his face is blurred out.

That has made him the village laughingstock, he claims.

His lawyer reportedly admits that the case is more amusing than serious—but raised the issue of what would have happened had he been caught kissing a woman other than his wife.

A French court is scheduled to rule on the case later this month.