A member of Texas REALTORS® was sued recently because the member’s brokerage website was displaying a copyrighted photo through the IDX feed from the MLS.
That’s the kind of situation the safe-harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was designed to address. The safe harbor applies to content on your website that you don’t control but that infringes someone else’s copyright. In the case of the lawsuit, the content is a photo from an IDX feed. As long as you comply with the safe harbor’s requirements, you are protected from liability for copyright infringement.
Texas REALTORS® has a free model policy for members with information about the DMCA to help you comply with the safe harbor.
Designating an agent with the Copyright Office is one requirement. Posting certain contact information on your website is another requirement.
I had a website that I paid for that used a photo that was copyrighted and I was contacted by the copyright holder and told if I paid them $20,000 they would agree to not sue me. I told them look I don’t have any control over what that website uses for photos, go sue them they are using it on hundreds of Realtor websites. It was a really generic photo, nothing special , not worth $20,000, to me anyway. But they were persistent and told me I need to get my copyright lawyer to contact them. My WHAT? I… Read more »
Thank you for sharing Tim.
I’m going through the same thing now with listing photos that were only licensed for the listing, not my web page moving forward. They are threatening a federal lawsuit for a lot of money. Basically a shakedown. Ideas?
They’re like the tech patent-trolls. Went through that in a different industry. The attorney buys cheap patents from failed companies, then threatens to sue business that have similar tech. Once one caves and pays, the patent-troll goes after other businesses in the same industry. In the example above, I think they over-shot on their amount request. Hitting people for $1000-$5000 would have been more successful. But the whole process is very frustrating, stressful, and disheartening.
Suggestion. Take a photography class over the winter time, and do your own property photos – It saves money on the long run.
Well, it seems the article and comments highlight 3 different areas of concern. The article is discussing feeds from another source just being “passed along” on a website. That is where safe harbor can save us. One of the comments shines a light on something ALL of us, with or without at website, need to do. As agents we must be asking listing photographers who owns the pictures and what they can be used for besides the original listing. Want to use the house you sold last summer in a facebook ad? Better check if you have the rights first!… Read more »
I was contacted by some sleaze bag attorney saying I was violating copyright of some home improvement show my webmaster had put a link to in my website. I told him to shove it where the sun don’t shine. My webmaster, a friend who had constructed my web site, assured me he had followed appropriate rules for posting it as he was the operations manager of a legal publishing firm. Copyright and patent attorneys are the current iteration of ambulance chasers who basically try to extort people and companies for every penny they can get. They cast a wide net… Read more »
It is amazing how many of you feel so entitled to other peoples work that when you get steal someone else’s property you blame them for you theft. That is reprehensible and you need to take a good hard look at yourself when you get a bill for your theft and thank god that you aren’t going to jail for it. If you take someone’s car without permission you go to jail. Stop blaming others for your failings. NAR pushing this idiotic idea that the DMCA will protect your from your own actions is reckless at best and illogical. Staying… Read more »
I really don’t understand your point. I don’t think anyone on this site is saying they steal photos or content. I for one pay a professional photographer for my listing photos and have a license agreement with them. MLS takes those photos, slapped their logo on it and claims it as their property. I have had a discussion with my photographer about this as I don’t understand just why MLS publishes those photos I paid for, my photographer shot and claims them as their own. I think this listing was obtained by me, I paid for the photos and the… Read more »
Where would we find the information about how to use TRs DMCA, and what information needs to be displayed to have this on our website? Is there a link? Any help is appreciated.