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Wait, That's Not Your Photo!

Understanding Copyright Infringement - Issues with Listing Photos. Baseball is no longer the national pastime. I think today’s favorite indulgence is surfing the web and checking the wonderful photos of real estate properties, whether they be exterior or interior shots, luxury homes, aerial views, video tours, 3D Imaging, you name it.

But who owns the photograph and what rights do they have to stop a third party from infringing on those rights? Those and related issues are the focus of several risk management articles prepared by the legal staff at the National Association of REALTORS®.

In an article titled “Who Owns Your Property Photos?” the author points out that: “Improper use of listing photographs, however, can create legal problems for agents, brokerages and MLSs. 

Authorship and ownership of photographs within the real estate industry is “fractured”. Who authored the photograph and who can use what photograph and in what way varies across the industry. 

Listing photographs may be taken by homeowners, real estate agents, MLS or brokerage employees, or professional photographers. Photographs may be owned or licensed to different parties in a variety of ways. A misunderstanding of how you may use the photographs for property listings could make you vulnerable to a copyright lawsuit.” 

The article cites an ongoing case alleging that Zillow continued to use the listing photos in connection with “sold” properties and that this use exceeded the scope of the photographer’s limited license to use the photographs only in connection with active property listings. 

As part of a Risk Management Strategy, the article recommends the following:

1. Review photography agreements to assess how you can use the photographs

2. Audit photographs to ensure compliance with the relevant agreements

3. Determine how you want to use listing photographs and ensure that future agreements permit those uses

4. Maintain a record of all photography agreements

To that end, NAR provides some Sample Photography Agreements for you to review with your attorney:

    •    Work Made For Hire Agreement
    •    Assignment Agreement
    •    Exclusive License Agreement

So, what happens when you display listing photos on your website provided by other brokers under IDX rules and it turns out that one of those photos is now the subject of a copyright infringement claim by the photographer?  If there was no way for you to know about the infringement claim, how can you protect yourself?

NAR’s Associate Counsel Chloe Hecht offers advice in a video titled “Window to the Law: Listing Photo Copyright Issues.” In the video, she suggests that you can limit your liability for copyright infringement by complying with the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

This act provides a “safe harbor” if a third party uploads infringing content on your website. But to enjoy this safe harbor, you’ll need to designate a copyright agent on your website and with the Copyright Office, implement a DMCA-compliant website policy, comply with the DMCA takedown procedure; and have no knowledge of the complained-of infringing activity.

In short, be respectful of the photography rights of others and be clear about what rights you grant others to use your listing photographs. And, as recommended in these articles, carefully review the relevant photography agreements.
  • November 9, 2017

  • John Reilly

Byte Your Bandwith

Antique Computer Terminology - How far we've come! Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are an accepted way of life, and while it's hard to remember what life was like without them, it was not that long ago that we lived in a distinctly non-digital existence.

So while I'm reminiscing, I thought we might take a moment to look back at some of the humorous terms we heard around the time the Internet was taking hold. Many thanks go to Ron Rothenberg for posting this glossary on our online forum August 2, 1995, shortly before the birth of RealTalk.

Speaking of which, RealTalk has been reborn on Facebook and is now available to all real estate agents. Join us for the conversation!

If you’re serious about using computers, then it’s useful to know what some of the terminologies means:

ALPHA – Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. “Alpha” is Latin for “doesn’t work.”

ASCII CHARACTERS – Non-alphabetic characters such as “<&^$%@~?”. These are used to denote expletives after a hard drive crash.

BETA – Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it is released. “Beta” is Latin for “still doesn’t work.”

CPU – Central Propulsion Unit. The CPU is the computer’s engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and tiny spinning wheel that is powered by a running rodent – a gerbil if the machine is a 286 and a ferret if it’s a 386 or higher.

DRIVER – The best club to hit the computer at first, then use a #9 iron.

HARDWARE – Collective term for any computer-related object that can be kicked or battered.

MEGAHERTZ – What your head feels like after reading a computer manual.

MONITOR – The device where the computer displays error messages.

PRINTER – A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray, and the blinking red lights.

REFERENCE MANUAL – Object used to raise the monitor to eye level; also used to compensate for that short table leg.

UNSTABLE – What the user becomes after the fifth “Drive B: not ready. Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?” message.

USER-FRIENDLY – Of or pertaining to any feature, device or concept that makes perfect sense to a professional programmer.

USERS – Collective term for those who stare vacantly at a monitor. Users are divided into three types: novice, intermediate, and expert.

NOVICE USERS – People who are afraid that simply pressing a key might break their computer.

INTERMEDIATE USERS – People who don’t know how to fix their computer after they’ve just pressed a key that broke it.

EXPERT USERS – People who break other people’s computers.
Ron was famous for ending his posts with a tag, such as:
Bugs are Sons of Glitches!

Obviously, these terms are in jest. And perhaps this list is in need of updating. Do you have any humorous tech terms you're ready to share?
  • November 14, 2017

  • Saul Klein

The Power of Branding with Domains and Email

The one tool every agent must master is email. No other tech is as ubiquitous and essential as email for initiating and engaging your clients. When done correctly, email offers you the perfect opportunity to establish your brand and elevate your business to the next level. 
  • November 1, 2017

  • RealTown

Wiki Discussion

Do you Wiki? From free online encyclopedias to infamous sites for whistleblowing, the wiki has become a part of our nomenclature. Saul Klein and John Reilly look at this well-established technology and how it can impact the world of real estate. 
  • October 30, 2017

  • RealTown

Trusting Opinions Online

Not always right but never in doubt! It's the cry of the online opinion! With the rise of social networks, we're often subject to strange and unique opinions on all kinds of topics. But what you really need help, who can you trust online? Saul Klein and John Reilly, long time industry experts in social networks tackle the subject of online opinions and render their own in the process. 
  • October 31, 2017

  • RealTown