July 21st, 2015
Many readers have pointed out that Zillow has been sued by VHT claiming that the Zillow.com/digs home improvement site is violating copyrights on hundreds of real estate photos. John Cook at GeekWire.com has an article the summarizes the VHT’s suit against Zillow.
The suit alleges that:
Zillow uses photographs from homes that are not for sale and makes no effort whatsoever to remove those images once properties are sold; it induces users to post images to the Digs Site; it uses those images to induce advertisers to fill Zillow’s coffers with advertising revenue; and it tags and groups the photographs and pastes advertisements directly on top of VHT’s images. Zillow cannot hide behind safe harbors and blame others for its own brazen theft.
I’m frankly glad to see that someone is going after Zillow for not deleting sold listing photos. I personally have noticed that Zillow has still retained my photos for our rental listing that sold two and a half years ago. In neighborhoods I’m familiar with, I see this happening all over. Any reasonable expectations would require them to delete all photos from sold listing. They clearly don’t do that. As the GeekWire.com article points out, Zillow’s point of view is that “Zillow has abided by the terms of the licenses agreed to by the parties who provided these photos.” In other words, Zillow thinks that the licensing provided by MLSs is such they can do anything they want with photos of sold listings for as long as they want. They get by with this because 90% of listing photos are done by Realtors with smartphones and they don’t care what happens to the photos after the sale.
This clearly needs to be settled ASAP! Thanks to VHT for taking this cause on!