What Happens When a Real Estate Agent Uses Photos of Other Listings?
If you are a real estate agent, you may wonder about the copyrights of photographs taken of your listings. There is an interesting debate afoot, as some people claim that you can use photos of other properties as long as you ask for permission. Others say that you cannot.
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To know which are which, you need to understand the basics of copyright law. This means knowing whether you can use another’s photos for your listings and the best ways to do so.
The Federal Copyright Act of 1976 protects photography as a protected class of creative work. Although it was passed more than three decades ago, fewer Realtors are aware of it. It has become a big issue for the industry. Many of them are unaware that they are infringing on the rights of other copyright holders.
The real estate industry is a competitive one, and some Realtors assume that they can use other agents’ listing photographs for their marketing. However, this is a mistake. You need to check with the owner of the property to ensure that you are not infringing on their copyright.
While the laws vary from state to state, some general rules apply. In particular, you must check with your local real estate board. In the United Kingdom, there are some strict rules for how photographs are used.
Aside from the standard MLS rules, there are also other regulations relating to the use of real estate images. For example, in most cases, you can only use pictures to sell a house. This is because a photograph is considered intellectual property. Using photos of other properties without the owner’s permission can lead to a lawsuit.
The good news is that there are companies out there that are actively enforcing the laws, including VHT Studios, the nation’s largest professional photography firm. Specifically, the company is going after copyright infringement. They have a great website, and it can be easy to get a handle on the law.
One thing you can do to ensure that you do not infringe on someone’s copyright is to obtain a copyright transfer from the photographer. To do this, you will need to sign a written agreement. It’s important to verify the contract in case there are any omissions or mistakes.
Another way to avoid an image lawsuit is to only upload and share content that you have the right to. That means that you must only post photographs on a Facebook page or a Zillow profile if you have permission. When you are unsure of the legality of a certain action, consult a lawyer.
Other ways to make sure you are doing the right thing are to check out the terms of the contract that you signed with the photographer. In particular, you will want to be sure that you have transferred the copyright of the photographs to the brokerage.