Q: Is it permissible under copyright law to screenshot Google Street View imagery of a house I grew up in for memories?

What about if the images contain someone's car or any trademarks? Does this action infringe on any IP, such as design patents, patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Under copyright law, using a screenshot of Google Street View imagery for personal, non-commercial purposes, like reminiscing about a house you grew up in, generally falls under fair use. However, it's important to be mindful of how you use these images, especially if you decide to share them publicly or use them for commercial purposes.

When the image includes elements like someone's car or visible trademarks, it becomes more complex. Typically, incidental inclusion of these elements doesn't constitute a copyright infringement, but again, the purpose and manner of your use are key factors. For personal, private use, such as keeping the image in a family album, legal risks are minimal.

For design patents or patents, these concerns are less relevant in the context of Google Street View images. Copyright law doesn't protect functional elements like car designs or other patented items in the context of a broader image, particularly for non-commercial use.

However, always remember that sharing the image publicly or using it commercially can lead to different legal considerations. If you're ever unsure about the legal implications of your specific use case, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney. They can provide guidance tailored to your situation, considering the nuances of copyright and intellectual property law.

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