Only in Japan? It Boggles The Mind To Wonder What Laws Allow This To Happen
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Collectively, Americans have a reputation for being a touch litigious (such as someone suing McDonald's because their hot coffee was hot, for example), but this article about a suit in Japan perhaps takes the cake:

Woman sues Google for displaying image of her hanging underwear in search results

Someone took a photo from a public place that included within its scene the publicly-visible view of her apartment building, including the publicly-visible view of the laundry she chose to hang outside on her balcony in full view of anyone walking by. This photo was then put up by someone on some web page somewhere, and over the course of time Google's searchbots found it and included it in Google's search results.

And so, for crying out loud, this 20-something lady is suing Google for $7,000 “in consolation money and other payment”.

In one Japanese-language news-discussion board I came across, the first comment (of 450+ that where there when I found it) was simply the phrase “persecution complex” (被害妄想), which is putting it mildly. Yet, as ridiculous as it is, her complaint made it as far as court, something that would not happen even in sue-happy America. I'd be very interested to know what laws have allowed it to get that far here. Do I need to worry about what's in the background of photos I post on my blog?

I guess common sense is not enough... you really should know the local laws, especially if they are pathetically stupid like the German laws that make it illegal to call someone a nasty name or even merely giving an unfriendly glance. I kid you not. (Oh-oh, will Germany sue me because I called their law stupid?)

Anyway, if anyone has insight into specific Japanese laws in this area, I'd appreciate a comment....

All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

Come on… You know the only difference with the US is they would have asked $7m not $7k 🙂

— comment by rx1337 on December 17th, 2010 at 2:39pm JST (13 years ago) comment permalink

Yes it is illegal in Germany to insult someone, but the state does not automatically prosecute. Only if the insulted person files charges. The Most cases never get opened or go to court.

As far as I know the Germans sue people at least just as often as in the States. But here you have to pay the lawyer independently of the outcome. Damages are regulated and not fixed in court. For the hot coffee you’d only get enough money to pay the lawyer, and clean the seat and trousers. So cases are a lot less prominent.

— comment by Daniel Cutter on December 17th, 2010 at 7:24pm JST (13 years ago) comment permalink

Something goes amiss in the uNited Sates, hire a solicitor.
Here in Canada the fee paid to the legal beagle is not dependent upon
the settlement decided by the magistrate or the courts in general.

However the litigation factor of the new emerging world is becoming
more stupid by the minute. And sadly it all comes down to not so much
to solving the problem, rather how much coin ends up in the pocket
of the accuser. Is it all about money? ‘fraid so, sadly.

Bryce Lee, Burlington, Ontario

— comment by Bryce Lee (I am not Asian) on December 20th, 2010 at 2:18pm JST (13 years ago) comment permalink

A discussion on laws with regards to public photography in Japan is on this page:

Bottom line seems to be that you have a right to privacy even in public in Japan, which seems pretty weird to me, but there you go.

It makes for an interesting read, but one must be careful not to interpret photographers discussing their impression of things as an actual representation of the law. One only has to look at similar discussions on (for example) US law to realize that some people have no clue about reality despite claiming an expert knowledge, so it’s good to keep a grain of salt when looking at these discussions. In that light, it is a good page to read, so thanks for the link. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ray on December 31st, 2010 at 5:36pm JST (12 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Just like Japanese, Taiwanese here like taking pictures and you will often see people holding DSLRs shooting away but you brought out an interestring topic, now I have to check out local laws here in Taiwan too. It is also against the law here to shout profanity at other people and pointing the middle finger at someone may invite a lawsuit. Honking the horn of your car will also invite trouble here.
Philippines is probably one of the very few places where you can take photos without worry of someone complaining as Filipinos love to take pictures as well as having their pictures taken with a smile, at least that is the norm rather than the exception.

— comment by James Tuazon on May 13th, 2011 at 3:04am JST (12 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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