September 22nd, 2016
Alexander Stross who is a licensed agent in Austin, TX and a photographer sent me a link to Venkat Balasubramani’s article over at blog.ericgoldman.org describing a suit that Alexander filed against Redfin. The 5th circuit court recently ruled against Alexander. The essence of the case is as follows:
Stross is a photographer and broker who participates in multiple listing services (MLSs). He alleges that Redfin infringed because (1) it used “Stross’s photographs of sold listings for purposes other than ‘to support an estimate of value on a particular property to a particular client’” and (2) it recommercialized Stoss’s photographs by “encouraging” social sharing. The court in an earlier order says “there is a strong case for infringement, but factual issues remain regarding the alleged exceeding the scope of the ACTRIS license” and Redfin’s eligibility for DMCA safe harbor protection. The court now reverses course and grants summary judgment in favor of Redfin.
So aware that if you are a licensed agent or an MLS member, depending on your MLS, the MLS rights may conflict with your rights as a photographer.
I know, there is much about this decision that seems strange starting with the fact that to transfer photo rights the photographer must sign something and to join his MLS Alexander did not sign anything.